Ukraine’s Bravery Surprised Even Me, Zelenskyy Says

In a Zoom call hosted by a British think tank, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he believed "normal people" from any country would behave the same way if they were attacked.
volodymyr zelenskyy ukraine mariupol

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that even he has been surprised by the bravery of the Ukrainian people, but that he believed most people from any other nation would have responded in the same way to fend off an invasion.

Speaking via Zoom to the Chatham House think-tank in London, Zelenskyy said: “At first we wanted to unite, to be strong together and stand up to the threat, and that was the fist our people clenched… I have always been convinced that our people are strong.”


He added: “I do not wish that [any other country is invaded] but if you have such an invasion… I am convinced that all the adequate people would try to defend their country, their families, their households. I think that normal people think along those lines naturally. And I’m happy that we have such a number of normal, strong people – responsible people – as our citizens, and I am also surprised with their bravery.”

Around 3,000 Ukrainian civilians are estimated to have died since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian forces to invade in February, while more than 12 million people are believed to have fled their homes since the war began.

Ukraine is currently trying to evacuate hundreds of civilians trapped in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, which is under heavy Russian bombardment. Kyiv has accused Moscow of violating a ceasefire and firing at a car involved in the evacuation attempt. 

Zelenskyy accused Russia of torturing people to death in the area.

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Mariupol has been under near constant bombardment. PHOTO: Leon Klein/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“One of the most complicated points of this war, this is an example of torture with starvation – nobody can get any kind of foodstuffs. All the international organisations are prohibited from entering the area, they cannot supply water,” he said. “This is a beastly attitude. Anyone would agree, it’s not human.


“That’s how the Russian military treats people. That’s inhuman treatment.”

He added: “The death is not caused by war, it is not a military event. This is torturing to death. This is terrorism.”

Zelenskyy has invited German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to visit Kyiv on the 9th of May – the Victory Day holiday in Russia commemorating the victory over Nazi Germany – after weeks of tension between the two countries over Berlin’s reliance on Russian gas and its reluctance to supply Ukraine with heavy weaponry. 

“He’s invited to come to Ukraine, he can make this very powerful political step to come here on the 9th of May, to Kyiv,” he said.

“Sometimes we have to take certain steps for unity, even if there is some kind of coldness in specific relations.”