(KYIV, Ukraine) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to destroy the Donbas and all who live there.
“The constant brutal bombardments, the constant Russian strikes on infrastructure and residential areas show that Russia wants to empty this territory of all people. Therefore, the defense of our land, the defense of our people, is literally a fight for life,” he said late Friday in his nightly video address to the nation.
He said the cities and towns of the Donbas will survive only if Ukraine remains standing. “If the Russian invaders are able to realize their plans even partially, then they have enough artillery and aircraft to turn the entire Donbas into stones. As they did with Mariupol.”
Zelenskyy said Mariupol, once one of the most developed cities in the region, was now a “Russian concentration camp among the ruins.”
In Kharkiv, a major city to the north, the situation was “brutal” but Ukrainian troops and intelligence agents “have had important tactical successes,” he said without elaborating.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said about 20% of the city's residential buildings have been so badly damaged that it will be impossible to restore them.
Zelenskyy said rescuers were still going through the rubble in Kyiv after Thursday’s missile strikes. He expressed his condolences to the family of Vira Hyrych, who was killed in the bombardment. He said she was the 23rd journalist killed in the war.