Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Thursday address that Russia’s mobilization of new troops represents a “frank admission” that its army has “crumbled” during its attack on Ukraine.
“Russia’s decision on mobilization is a frank admission that their regular army, which has been prepared for decades to take over a foreign country, did not withstand and crumbled,” Zelensky said during the address.
Zelensky claimed that Russian leadership is “preparing to take up to a million men into the army” despite being silent about its plans.
The president contrasted the Ukrainian military with that of Russia, praising his constituents for holding out during the “full-scale attack” the larger country initiated in February.
“Ukraine managed to liberate a significant part of the territory the Russian troops invaded,” he said.
“Ukraine liberates people from Russian captivity.”
Zelensky noted that according to Ukrainian estimates, 55,000 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine since the initial invasion and that tens of thousands more have suffered casualties.
“Want more? No? Then protest. Fightback. Run away. Or surrender to Ukrainian captivity. These are options for you to survive,” the president said, directed at the Russian military.
Zelensky also referenced the referendums scheduled to begin on Friday in four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine that will determine whether those regions will become part of Russia.
He called the plan a “farce” and the referendums a “sham,” comparing Russia’s strategy with its actions in Crimea and the Donbas in 2014.
“I will note right away: any decisions of the Russian leadership do not change anything for Ukraine,” he said.
“This is the liberation of our country, the protection of our people and the mobilization of global support for the implementation of our tasks,” Zelensky added.