President Zelensky warns Russia: We will defend ourselves

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Russia could start “a major war in Europe” any day now, and called on Russians to oppose it.

In a late-night address, he said he had unsuccessfully sought talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I initiated a telephone call with the president of the Russian federation. Result: silence,” Mr Zelensky said.

He said Russia had almost 200,000 troops and thousands of combat vehicles on Ukraine’s borders.

And switching from Ukrainian into Russian, Mr Zelensky made an emotional appeal to Russians to reject an attack, saying they were being lied to about Ukraine.

“Who can stop (the war)? People. These people are among you, I am sure,” he said.

Ukraine’s leader said his country was ready for a Russian attack, vowing: “If they [Russia] attack, if they try to take our county – our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children – we will be defending ourselves.”

“As you attack, it will be our faces you see, not our backs,” the Ukrainian president said.

It came as Russian troops, ordered into Ukraine’s two rebel-held regions, were reportedly edging closer to the border.

Moscow said the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine had asked for military support.

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