Mar 3, 2022 - World

Zelensky: "We are a nation that broke the enemy's plans in a week"

In a speech marking one week since the Russian invasion began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the ordinary civilians who have laid their lives on the line to repel the unprovoked attack: "We are a nation that broke the enemy's plans in a week."

Why it matters: Zelensky's passionate video addresses have helped rally global support for Ukraine and fuel resistance to a Russian opponent that — according to U.S. and European officials — was expecting a far easier and swifter path to victory.

What they're saying: "We are a nation that broke the enemy's plans in a week — plans that have been built for years, treacherously, deliberately, with hatred of our country, of our people, of any people who have heart and freedom," Zelensky said.

  • "Our military, border guards, territorial defense, even ordinary farmers capture the Russian military on a daily basis. And they all say one thing: They don't know why they're here."
  • "Despite the fact that their quantity is ten times bigger, the morale of the enemy is deteriorating. More and more invaders are fleeing back to Russia."

The big picture: Russia's continued bombardment of major Ukrainian cities is creating a massive humanitarian crisis.

  • More than a million people have fled Ukraine, according to the UN refugee agency.
  • Even as a 40-mile Russian convoy's march on Kyiv has stalled, civilians areas in Kharkiv have been leveled and Russian forces appear to have control over the southern port city of Kherson.
  • "I am sure of this: if [the Russians] entered somewhere, it is only temporary. We'll drive them out, with shame," Zelensky insisted.
  • "For us, this is a patriotic war. We remember how patriotic wars begin. And we know how they end for the invaders."

Between the lines: Zelensky has repeatedly sought to appeal directly to young Russian soldiers who he claims were tricked into this operation, not knowing Vladimir Putin was sending them to be killed.

  • A senior U.S. defense official told reporters Wednesday that there are indications of low morale among Russian troops, and that this may be contributing to stalled offensives outside of Kyiv and other cities.
  • "A lot of these soldiers are conscripts who have never been in combat before. Some of them, we believe, weren't even told they were going to be in combat," the official said.

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