- The Ukrainian President said prisoners will be able to ‘compensate for their guilt’
- Ukrainian inmates with combat experience will be sent to the ‘hottest spots’
- Zelensky said the decision was ‘not easy from the moral point of view’
- But he stressed that the defence of the nation was now the highest priority
Ukrainian prisoners with combat experience will be released from jail and allowed to serve their debt to society on the front lines of the conflict with Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced today.
Ukraine’s leader, who has gained plaudits from around the globe for his response to Russian aggression, said inmates will be able to ‘compensate for their guilt in the hottest spots’, in a presidential video address this morning.
‘Under martial law, Ukrainians with real combat experience will be released from custody and will be able to compensate for their guilt in the hottest spots of the conflict,’ Zelensky said.
‘We have taken a decision which is not easy from the moral point of view, but which is useful from the point of view of our defences.
‘The key is now defence.’
The Ukrainian leader – a former comedian who came to power in 2019 – released his latest video statement as Russian and Ukrainian negotiators prepared to sit down for their first face-to-face talks since Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered troops to invade last Thursday.
Ukraine’s leader, who has rapidly gained plaudits from around the globe for his response to Russian aggression, said inmates will be able to ‘compensate for their guilt in the hottest spots’, in a presidential video address this morning
‘Under martial law, Ukrainians with real combat experience will be released from custody and will be able to compensate for their guilt in the hottest spots of the conflict,’ Zelensky said (pictured: a serviceman of Ukrainian Military Forces holds a hand grenade launcher on his position on the front line with Russia backed separatists, near Novognativka village, Donetsk)
‘We have taken a decision which is not easy from the moral point of view, but which is useful from the point of view of our defences,’ Zelensky said (A Ukrainian service member is seen, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, at a check point in the city of Zhytomyr)
Ukrainian firefighters put out a fire on a high-rise apartment block which was hit by shelling in Kyiv
Smoke rises over Kyiv on Monday morning as the city awoke from a night of heavy Russian bombardment to relative calm, though there are fears that Moscow’s troops could quickly step up their attacks
The leader also made an appeal to the EU, requesting that the bloc allow Ukraine to join immediately in the face of Russian aggression.
‘We appeal to the European Union for the immediate accession of Ukraine via a new special procedure,’ the 44-year-old leader said in a new video address.
‘Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing. I’m sure it’s fair. I’m sure it’s possible.’
He said 16 children had died during the first four days of Moscow’s assault and another 45 were wounded as he hailed ‘Ukrainian heroes.’
The UN’s human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Monday that at least 102 civilians, including seven children, had been killed but warned the real numbers were probably far higher.
‘Ukrainians have shown the world who we are. And Russia has shown what it has become,’ Zelensky said.
Zelensky also urged Russian soldiers to lay down their weapons during the video address.
‘Abandon your equipment. Get out of here. Don’t believe your commanders. Don’t believe your propagandists. Just save your lives,’ Zelensky said.
He claimed that more than 4,500 Russian soldiers had already lost their lives during the Kremlin’s assault.
Russian authorities have admitted their forces have sustained casualties but have not yet given an official death toll.
Zelensky rounded off the presidential address on the fifth day of the Russian invasion by thanking the West for its support.
‘Support of our anti-war coalition is unconditional and unprecedented. Each of us is a warrior. And I am sure that each of us will win,’ he said.
Zelensky’s latest video address comes after Kyiv survived another night under Russian attack, with Putin’s ‘demoralised and exhausted’ troops suffering ‘heavy losses’ trying and failing to break through defences in the city’s outskirts, according to a top Ukrainian general.
Ukraine war, day 5: Russian forces are now attempting to skirt around Kyiv and encircle it from the west. Troops fighting out of Crimea continue to make gains and are likely to surround Mariupol soon, while also reaching the outskirts of a key Ukrainian nuclear plant. Fighting in the east continues to be heavy with no breakthrough for Putin
An apartment building is pictured on fire in Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, as Russian forces continue
to try and reach the Ukrainian capital en masse so they can seize the city
Zelensky’s latest video address comes after Kyiv survived another night under Russian attack, with Putin’s ‘demoralised and exhausted’ troops suffering ‘heavy losses’ trying and failing to break through defences in the city’s outskirts, according to a top Ukrainian general (Putin pictured Feb 27, 2022)
Colonel General Alexander Syrsky, who is in charge of defending the city, said this morning that ‘all attempts’ to breach the city failed and that the situation is currently ‘under control’.
‘We showed that we can protect our home from uninvited guests,’ he added.
Attacks on Kyiv failed despite the city suffering heavy bombardment, with witnesses reporting the sound of ‘carpet-bombing’.
At 6am Monday, a curfew that had been in place since 3pm Saturday was lifted – allowing people out to buy food and breathe fresh air – but air raid sirens sounded shortly afterwards.
In the early hours, Russia invited all Ukrainian citizens to leave the city via a ‘safe’ highway – sparking fears that the bombardment could be about to dramatically step up.
Moscow employed the same strategy in Syria while fighting alongside Assad’s forces, usually before shelling and bombing cities with heavy casualties.
Though Russian advanced forces have been fighting in Kyiv’s outskirts for several days, the bulk of Putin’s assault force is still located around 20 miles away having been slowed up by determined resistance fighters – with satellite images revealing a huge column of vehicles headed for the city.
Russian vehicles are pictured moving in convoy down a highway north of Kyiv at the city of Ivankiv, amid fears that Putin’s army is about to significantly step up its assault on the city
A huge column of Russian tanks and support vehicles is seen near Ivankiv, around 40 miles north of Kyiv, on Sunday. The column is now thought to be around 20 miles from the city
The cities of Zhytomyr, Zaporizhzhia, and Chernihiv were also bombed overnight, with air raid sirens sounding in other areas.
Fighting continued in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city located in the east near the border with Russia, which has been the site of the heaviest clashes so far.
Zelensky’s appeal for Ukraine to be admitted to the EU came after the alliance announced it will supply the nation with hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov meanwhile spoke out against EU plans to arm Ukraine, saying it was a ‘hostile action against Russia’ amid reports that Poland will send some of its MiG attack jets to replenish Ukrainian forces.