Feb 25, 2022 - World

Zelensky to EU leaders: "This might be the last time you see me alive"

Zelensky visits Brussels in June, 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told EU leaders "this might be the last time you see me alive" during a video conference on Thursday night, two European sources briefed on the call tell Axios.

State of play: The Pentagon has warned that Russia's primary aim appears to be to encircle Kyiv and "decapitate" its government. Meanwhile Zelensky said Thursday that Russian "sabotage forces" were in Kyiv and hunting for him and his family.

  • Zelensky has been using his public and private remarks to pressure, and in some cases shame, countries to do more to help Ukraine and isolate Russia.

Context: The video call took place before the leaders of EU countries decided on a new series of sanctions against Russia. Zelensky lobbied them to take steps they haven't been willing to so far, a European diplomat told me.

  • Shortly before the call, Zelensky gave a televised address saying he was Russia's "number one" target for capture or assassination, and his family members were the "number two" target.
  • Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, who participated in the video conference, call told the TT news agency that when the EU leaders said goodbye to Zelensky they knew they might not see him again.
  • The Financial Times reported earlier on Friday that Zelensky had told the EU leaders he didn’t know whether he would be able to speak with them again.

The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the Ukrainian military to perform a coup against Zelensky and then negotiate with Russia.

The Ukrainian embassy in Israel declined to comment for this story.

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