Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the world to remain steadfast in its support on Thursday, one month after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
“It breaks my heart, hearts of all Ukrainians and every free person on the planet. That’s why I ask you to stand against the war,” Zelenskyy said in a video message posted to social media. “…Come from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities, come in the name of peace, come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to support freedom, to support life.”
The war, which began on Feb. 24 when Russian troops invaded Ukraine, has stretched far longer than Putin or military analysts anticipated, with a fierce Ukrainian resistance holding off the Russian military in Kyiv and other cities.
Earlier this week, NATO said that as many as 15,000 Russians had been killed in the conflict and up to 25,000 more injured. Ukraine has claimed that figure includes six Russian generals; the Kremlin has acknowledged just one of those generals’ deaths.
At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has upped his military’s assault on civilian targets, bombing Ukrainian cities while peace talks make little ground.
The U.S. has said those attacks amount to war crimes, and pointed to the shelling of a maternity hospital in Mariupol. Figures show at least 2,500 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the war, although the actual number of fatalities is likely far higher.
Zelenskyy has become a national hero through his leadership during the invasion, wielding social media to rally Ukrainians and appeal for aid and military support from Europe, Asia and the United States.
But fears have grown that Putin, angered at the stalled effort, could turn to the country’s vast arsenal of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in order to shift the tide of battle.
President Joe Biden is in Europe this week for a summit with NATO allies and the European Union to hash out new sanctions against Russia and discuss further military aid. According to The New York Times, the White House has also quietly assembled a team of national security officials to sketch out how it will respond if Putin turns towards weapons of mass destruction.
In his video address Thursday, Zelenskyy urged people all over the world to recognize the Kremlin’s assault against Ukraine as not just a war against his people, but a “war against freedom as it is.”
“Make yourselves visible and heard,” he said. “Say that people matter, freedom matters, peace matters, Ukraine matters. All as one, together, who want to stop the war.”