By Associated Press
In a video address on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he believes “tens of thousands” of Ukrainians were killed by Russia in Mariupol.
“The Russians completely destroyed Mariupol and burned it to ashes. At least tens of thousands of Mariupol citizens must have been killed,” Zelensky told South Korean lawmakers.
He stressed that Ukrainian forces haven’t been able to enter Mariupol since the start of March and that Russian forces have cut off humanitarian shipments.
“Russia doesn’t care how many people die,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky briefly stopped his speech to play a graphic video showing buildings hit by rockets, Russian tanks firing as they rolled through destroyed streets and people wailing over dead relatives at overwhelmed hospitals.
“This war is far from over,” Zelenskyy said. “Russia is aiming to end Ukraine’s independence and separate the country. It is trying to eliminate the culture and language of the Ukrainian nation.”
In Mariupol, Russia deployed Chechen fighters, reputed to be particularly fierce. Capturing the city on the Sea of Azov would give Russia a land bridge to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine and annexed eight years ago.
In a video posted on his Telegram channel, Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov said Russian forces would launch a renewed offensive on Mariupol and “in all the other settlements, cities and villages.”
Mariupol’s residents have lacked food, water and electricity since Russian forces surrounded the city. Hundreds of thousands have fled, though Russian attacks have also frustrated evacuation missions.
Vladislav Usovich, an 18-year-old conscript serving in Russia-backed separatist forces, advanced slowly with other fighters through residential areas around a factory Sunday in Mariupol.
“I thought it would go better. I thought it would be faster. Everything is going slowly,” he said. “The Ukrainians are prepared fighters. NATO trained them well.”
World Israel News staff contributed to this report.