Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky vowed Wednesday that Russia would not topple his government byand civilians with missiles, but with pressure from unprecedented international sanctions against Moscow swelling by the day, that increasingly appeared to be Vladimir Putin’s strategy.
Zelensky said Wednesday night that roughly 9,000 members of Russia’s invading force had been killed since Putin launched his unprovokeda week ago. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said, meanwhile, that more than 2,000 civilians had been killed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, and a government official said there were at least 21 children among the dead.
Zelensky remained defiant in a video address Wednesday night, saying “We are a people who in a week have destroyed the plans of the enemy.”
“They will have no peace here. They will have no food. They will have here not one quiet moment,” the Ukrainian president added.
Putin’s forces continue pushing slowly into Ukrainian territory, but after seven days of war, it was unclear if Russia had yet to capture any major Ukrainian city. Russian officials claimed “full control” of Kherson, on the southern coast, but both Ukrainian and U.S. officials denied the assertion, with an advisor to Zelensky saying “the city has not fallen, our side continues to defend.”
U.S. officials say a mammoth column of Russian troops and weapons currently about 20 miles north of Kyiv could move to encircle the capital city within a week, and then seize it within a month.
But Russia’s war from a distance — an increasingly merciless barrage of heavy artillery hitting major population centers — is already exacting a devastating toll on Ukrainian civilians. At least 1 million have fled their homes to neighboring countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Tens of thousands more continue to wait in long lines at the borders, freezing with children and pets in tow, fleeing from a Russian onslaught that the U.S. said on Wednesday looked set to get worse.
In his first State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, Presidentwith the Ukrainian people and lambasted Putin, whom he vowed would “pay a continuing high price over the long run” for his decision to unleash “violence and chaos” on his neighbors.