Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continued to plead for Western assistance against Russian airstrikes Tuesday — a day after he warned that there could be dire consequences for the rest of the world if it doesn’t support the country’s fight for freedom.
“While Russians are to blame for the killings, responsibility is shared by those who for 13 days in their Western offices haven’t been able to approve an obviously necessary decision, who didn’t save our cities from these bombs and missiles — although they can,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky addressed the Ukrainian people by video from an undisclosed location Tuesday morning in what has become his customary morning address.
The Ukrainian president reported the death of a child from dehydration in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
He called for the expansion of so-called “safety corridors” for the evacuation of civilians.
“They have already killed people who were just trying to get to safe areas,” Zelensky said.
The corridors have been the subject of days of negotiation between Russian and Ukrainian officials, with Russian forces allegedly breaking cease-fire agreements and firing on fleeing civilians or booby-trapping escape routes.
Zelensky said buses had been sent to aid in the evacuation of Mariupol, but said no firm evacuation route had been negotiated.
“Russian troops can simply shoot on this transport on the way,” he said.
Ukrainian cities have been under siege from Russian forces for over a week now, subject to heavy shelling and bombing.
Zelensky urged Western nations to provide air support to supplement Ukraine’s air force.
He has been asking for NATO to set up a no-fly zone — a move that is widely expected to be seen by Russia as an act of war. Zelensky has also been urging Western nations to provide extra fighter jets for Ukrainian pilots.
In an interview with ABC’s David Muir on Monday night, Zelensky said Western protection of Ukraine was in democratic nations’ self-interest.
“Everyone thinks that we are far away from America or Canada,” he said. “No, we are in this zone of freedom. And when the limits of rights and freedoms are being violated and stepped on, then you have to protect us.”
“Because we will come first. You will come second,” he continued. “Because the more this beast will eat, he wants more, more, and more.”
In his address, Zelensky opened with an acknowledgment that Tuesday is International Women’s Day — typically an important holiday in Ukraine as well as Russia.
“Ukrainians, we usually celebrate this holiday, the holiday of spring. We congratulate our women, our daughters, wives, mothers. Usually. But not today.”
“Today I cannot say the traditional words. I just can’t congratulate you. I can’t, when there are so many deaths. When there is so much grief, when there is so much suffering. When the war continues,” he said.
With Post wires