| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Ukraine: Zelenskyy warns Russia wants to ‘destroy Donbas’

In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed that Russia wants to “destroy any life” in the Donbas region, comparing it to the Russian offensive against the port city of Mariupol.

“Constant brutal bombings, constant Russian strikes at infrastructure and residential areas show that Russia wants to make this area uninhabited,” he said.

He welcomed the return to Kyiv of the UK’s Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons and added that “currently, 27 foreign diplomatic missions operate in the capital of our country.”
Zelenskyy also gave his condolences to the relatives and friends of Vera Hyrych, the journalist killed in Thursday’s airstrike against Kyiv.

“The dismantlement of debris in Kyiv, where Russian missiles hit yesterday during the visit of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, continues,” he said. “Unfortunately, such a deliberate and brutal humiliation of the United Nations by Russia was left without a powerful response.”
In return, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview for Chinese news agency Xinhua published early on Saturday morning that the lack of progress in ongoing talks with Ukraine was down to Western intervention.

He said “the belligerent rhetoric and incitement of Kyiv’s Western benefactors” is what is obstructing further talks, Russian news agency TASS reported.

“If the US and NATO are really interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis, then first of all, they should wake up and stop supplying the Kyiv regime with arms and ammunition,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov said negotiations have been continuing over daily video conferences. But he said Ukraine must stop acting in the interests of “remote advisers” who incite Kyiv to “fight until the last Ukrainian.”

However, on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview with Polish media that talks between the two sides were at high risk of falling apart, Ukrainian newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda reported.

Lavrov also insisted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he referred to using the official Kremlin terminology of a “special military operation,” was going to plan.

He also said Russia could “retool” its economy to bolster it against potential “unlawful hostilities” and that the country would reduce imports and boost its technological independence in the face of Western sanctions.

  • DW