Ukraine’s president urged Russian citizens to protest Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilize at least 300,000 men to fight in the war and called on conscripted soldiers to “flee” or surrender.
“55,000 Russian soldiers died in this war within six months. Thousands are injured and injured. Do you want more? No? Then protest. Fight back. Flee. Or give up your Ukrainian captivity. These are choices for you to live with,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Thursday afternoon video address delivered partially in Russian.
Putin recently ordered a “partial mobilization” of 300,000 army reservists to support his campaign in Ukraine. Widespread antiwar protests erupted in cities across Russia following Putin’s announcement. More than 500 people were detained.
“Russia’s decision to mobilize is a frank admission that their army personnel, which had been prepared for many years to take on a foreign country, could not stand it and crumbled,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy recalled how Ukrainian forces managed to push back Russian advances into Kyiv and referred to the Ukrainian counteroffensive earlier this month that recaptured previously occupied territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region. He promised to release the remaining 15 percent of the territory in the eastern and southern regions.
“It is a choice to die or live, to deteriorate or to preserve health. For women in Russia, the choice is to lose their husbands, sons and grandchildren forever, or try to protect them from death, from war, from one person,” Zelenskyy said, referring to Putin.