On 50th day of war, Zelensky praises bravery of Ukrainians
By Vatican News staff reporter
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainians on Thursday they should be proud of having survived 50 days under Russian attack when the Russians, as he said, “gave us a maximum of five.”
In a late-night video address, Zelensky called it “an achievement of millions of Ukrainians, of everyone who on Feb. 24 made the most important decision of their life — to fight.”
Zelensky gave an extensive list of the many ways in which Ukrainians have helped to fend off the Russian troops, including “those who showed that Russian warships can sail away, even if it’s to the bottom” of the sea.
That remark was his only reference to the Russian missile cruiser Moskva, which sank on Thursday while being towed to port. The Moskva was lost after being damaged in disputed circumstances. Ukraine says it struck the vessel with anti-ship missiles, while Moscow acknowledged a fire on board but not any attack.
Continuing his address, Zelensky said he remembered the first day of the invasion when many world leaders, unsure whether Ukraine could survive, advised him to leave the country.
“But they didn’t know how brave Ukrainians are, how much we value freedom and the possibility to live the way we want,” Zelensky said.
Ukrainians being 'starved to death' in Mariupol
Meanwhile, the head of the UN World Food Programme said people are being “starved to death” in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and he predicted the country’s humanitarian crisis is likely to worsen as Russia intensifies its assault in the coming weeks.
WFP executive director David Beasley also warned in an interview on Thursday with the Associated Press in Kyiv that Russia’s invasion of grain-exporting Ukraine risks destabilizing nations far from its shores and could trigger waves of migrants seeking better lives elsewhere.
The war was “devastating the people in Ukraine,” Beasley said, lamenting the lack of access faced by the WFP and other aid organizations in trying to reach those in need amid the conflict.
The fluid nature of the conflict, which has seen fighting shift away from areas around the capital and toward eastern Ukraine, has made it especially difficult to reach hungry Ukrainians.
WFP is trying to put food supplies now in areas that could be caught up in the fighting, but Beasley acknowledged that there are “a lot of complexities” as the situation rapidly evolves.