The President of Ukraine called on Russian citizens to protest against Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilize at least 300,000 people to participate in the war and called on soldiers called up to “run” or surrender.
“55 thousand Russian soldiers died in this war in six months. Tens of thousands of wounded and maimed. You want more? Not? Then protest. Fight back. Run away. Or surrender to Ukrainian captivity. These are options for your survival,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message Thursday evening, partly in Russian.
Putin recently ordered a “partial mobilization” of 300,000 army reservists to support his campaign in Ukraine. Putin’s announcement was followed by massive anti-war protests in cities across Russia. More than 500 people have been detained.
“Russia’s decision to mobilize is a frank admission that their regular army, which had been preparing for decades to seize a foreign country, could not stand it and crumbled,” Zelensky said.
Zelenskiy recalled how Ukrainian forces repelled Russia’s offensive against Kyiv and referred to a Ukrainian counteroffensive earlier this month that recaptured previously occupied territory in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast. He undertook to liberate all 15 percent of the territory still occupied in the Far Eastern and southern regions.
“It is a choice to die or live, to become crippled or to remain healthy. For women in Russia, the choice is to permanently lose their husbands, sons and grandchildren, or try to protect them from death, from war, from one person,” Zelensky said, referring to Putin.