Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Russian soldiers shelling Ukrainian cities, urging them to surrender in a video message posted on Telegram early Tuesday.
“On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I give you a chance, a chance to survive,” Zelenskyy said, according to the translation provided with the video. “If you surrender to our forces, we will treat you the way people are supposed to be treated, as people, decently. In a way you were not treated in your army. And in a way your army does not treat ours.”
Zelenskyy said his country’s fighters continue to resist the invasion and have inflicted major damage on the Russian military.
“You’ve already understood everything,” Zelenskyy said. “You will not take anything from Ukraine. You will take lives. There are a lot of you. But your life will also be taken. But why should you die? What for? I know you want to survive.”
He added that Russian forces will face a further reckoning, for committing war crimes.
“Responsibility for war crimes of the Russian military is inevitable,” Zelenskyy warned. “Responsibility for a deliberate humanitarian catastrophe in Ukrainian cities is inevitable.”
The United Nations continues calling for an end to the war, citing the human cost and the devastating impact on the global economy, especially on developing nations, due to rising prices of food and energy.
“All of this is hitting the poorest the hardest and planting the seeds for political instability and unrest around the globe,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Monday.
Zelenskyy also pleaded with ordinary Russians to continue to resist Russian President Vladimir Putin’s misinformation campaign. State-run media in Russia have been using the term “special military operation” instead of “war” to describe the fighting and falsely say Ukraine is led by neo-Nazis, according to the BBC.
Zelenskyy made a special mention of Marina Ovsyannikov, the news editor who stormed the set of the Channel One newscast with a poster reading, “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you,” in Russian.
“As long as your country has not completely closed itself off from the whole world, turning into a very large North Korea, you must fight,” Zelenskyy said. “You must not lose your chance.”
The prime ministers of three European Union and NATO member countries — Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia — are traveling to Kyiv on Tuesday as Russian soldiers edge closer to the capital.
“Europe must guarantee Ukraine’s independence and ensure that it is ready to help in Ukraine’s reconstruction,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Zelenskyy will give a virtual speech to Congress on Wednesday.
Last week, Congress passed a spending bill with bipartisan support, including $13.6 billion for military and humanitarian support to Ukraine and regional allies.