Ukraine President Zelenskyy Says He’s Russia’s ‘Target No. 1’

Explosions rocked the capital early Friday morning, and a residential block was damaged as attacks intensified.

“Enemy sabotage groups” have entered the country’s capital Kyiv and marked President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine as “target No. 1,” the Ukrainian leader said on Friday.

“There is information about the enemy’s sabotage groups entering Kyiv. This is why I am asking citizens of Kyiv to be vigilant and adhere to the rules of martial law,” he said in a video message posted on Facebook in the early hours of Friday. “They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets.” 

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Speaking in Ukrainian rather than his native Russian just after midnight, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that at least 137 people—civilians and soldiers—were killed on the first day of the Russian attacks. He added that the Ukrainian army had recaptured Kyiv’s Hostomel airport from Russian troops after a fierce battle and managed to protect “almost the entire territory.”

Zelenskyy added that he was now in great danger, remaining in the government quarter in Kyiv after Russian forces have listed him as “target number one.” 

“According to our information, the enemy has listed me as target number one and my family as target number two,” an unshaven Zelenskyy wearing a T-shirt said in the speech. “They want to destroy the country politically, terminating the head of state.” 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the media on Thursday night that he was “convinced” Putin’s aims involved seizing Kyiv and overthrowing the Ukrainian government.

Later on Friday morning, journalists in Kyiv reported hearing two large blasts and a third loud explosion. A statement from the Ukrainian interior ministry later confirmed that a residential block was damaged by debris and three people were injured, one of them in a critical condition.

“Horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv,” Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian minister of foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter. “Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany.”

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The news also comes with the imposition of a ban on all Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country.

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Appealing directly to Russia, Zelenskyy made an emotional plea. “Today I initiated a phone call with the president of the Russian Federation. The result was silence, though the silence should be in Donbas,” Zelenskyy said.

“That’s why I want to address today the people of Russia. I am addressing you not as a president, I am addressing you as a citizen of Ukraine,” he said. “The war is a big disaster, and this disaster has a high price. People lose money, reputation, quality of life, they lose freedom—but the main thing is that people lose their loved ones, they lose themselves.” 

In a public address on Thursday morning, Vladimir Putin announced the invasion of Ukraine while seeming to allude to nuclear war if efforts were made to counter Russian troops. He said Russian targets went beyond Ukraine, and he’d be going after America’s “empire of lies.”

“Whoever would try to stop us and further create threats to our country, to our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and lead you to such consequences that you have never faced in your history.” 

Follow Heather Chen on Twitter

Tagged:

russia, ukraine invasion, worldnews, world conflict

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