Ukraine’s president urged Russian citizens to protest Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilize at least 300,000 men to fight in the war, calling on conscripts to “run away” or surrender.
“55,000 Russian soldiers died in this war within six months. Tens of thousands are wounded and maimed. Do you want more? None? So protest. Strike again. Run away. Or surrender to Ukrainian captivity. These are options for your survival ,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video speech on Thursday night that was partially delivered in Russian.
Putin recently ordered the “partial mobilization” of 300,000 army reservists to support their campaign in Ukraine. Widespread anti-war protests in cities across Russia followed Putin’s announcement. More than 500 people were detained.
“Russia’s decision to mobilize is an honest admission that their personnel army, which was prepared for decades to take over a foreign country, could not stand it and crumbled,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy recalled how Ukraine’s forces repelled a Russian advance into Kiev and referenced the Ukrainian counteroffensive earlier this month that recaptured previously occupied territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region. He promised 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 disabled or to maintain health. For women in Russia, the choice is to lose their husbands, sons and grandsons forever or to try to protect them from death, from war, from one person,” Zelenskyy said, referring to Putin.