Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the people of the breakaway regions in Donbas in his Saturday video address posted to Facebook.
He called on the people of Donbas to fight for their rights and freedom and urged them to protect themselves from Russia.
“To everyone who can hear us, whose memory hasn’t been erased by propaganda, whose eyes weren’t shut by fear, whose soul wasn’t disfigured by cynicism — Fight!” he said. “Fight for your rights! For your freedom, for Ukraine! Together with Kherson, together with Berdyansk, together with Kyiv and all the rest of Ukrainian cities that value life and are not afraid of anything.”
Zelensky addressed Donbas’ skepticism of Ukraine, saying, “I know that many of you believed that Ukraine allegedly hates you. Will allegedly attack you. Will allegedly destroy you. Liars on Russian TV talk about it every day. Liars. It’s their job to lie to you every day. But this should not be your destiny.”
Days prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the leader of the pro-Moscow Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, ordered a general mobilization, claiming Ukraine was planning an offensive against the region.
The Ukrainian government in Kyiv asserts the two separatist-controlled regions in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, known as the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), are in effect Russian-occupied, where unmarked Russian forces have been propping up separatist fighters since 2014.
Zelensky pointed to the scale of attacks Russian forces have carried out on Ukrainian cities.
“You were told that we are destroying cities. Look at Kharkiv. At Chernihiv …They were killing us. They were killing children,” Zelensky said.
“It did it right in front of your eyes. Protect yourself! Otherwise, it will take your life, too. Your houses.”
He said Ukraine does not shoot its people or attack residential buildings, adding Donbas “has always been and will be our people. Our citizens.”
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