'We will win': Defiant Zelenskyy vows not to give 'single piece' of land to Putin

11 March 2022, 14:00 | Updated: 11 March 2022, 17:17

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has insisted Ukraine will win this war.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy has insisted Ukraine will win this war. Picture: Getty/Twitter/Instagram

By Sophie Barnett

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed not to give "a single piece" of land to Russia as he insisted he will win this war in a defiant speech to his country.

Mr Zelenskyy said Ukraine has reached a "strategic turning point" in Russia's invasion, which has killed thousands of Ukrainian civilians and forced more than two million people out of their homes.

In a powerful speech to his people on Instagram, Mr Zelenskyy claimed Ukraine is already "moving towards victory".

He said it's impossible to predict when, but Ukraine will win.

Speaking from war-torn Kyiv, Mr Zelenskyy said: "We have already reached a strategic turning point. We are already moving towards our goal, our victory.

"We need time, patience, our wisdom, energy, we need to do our job to the best of our abilities."

He continued that Ukrainians are "proud people" who always "defend their land", and will not give the occupier a "single piece of this land, not a single percent of their freedom".

Read more: Russian armoured convoy 'on the move' as Klitschko warns Kyiv is now a 'fortress'

Read more: Russian state TV defies Putin and finally starts broadcasting criticism of the war

"If this continues, then sanctions packages against Russia are not enough, and I expect — we are already working on this today — new sanctions from our partners," he said.

"Russia must pay for this terrible war, pay daily.

"A humanitarian catastrophe are two words that have become fully synonymous with the other two words, the Russian Federation."

President Joe Biden has announced on Friday that the US will downgrade its trade status with Russia as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine and also ban imports of Russian seafood, alcohol and diamonds.

The broad trade shift, which revokes the "most favoured nation" status for Russia, is being taken in coordination with the European Union and Group of Seven countries. "The free world is coming together to confront Putin," Mr Biden said from the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

Speaking at a news briefing in Versailles following the EU Council meeting today, French President Emmanuel Macron said the EU’s main objective was "a rapid return to peace, starting with the ceasefire followed by a rapid withdrawal of Russian troops".

President Macron said: "We support Ukraine today and we will do that for as long as the war lasts. And we will be there for the reconstruction of this destruction brought about by Russia.

"We will be there to help it to stand and to stay standing.

"The message that we first sent out to the Ukrainian population is that the path to our Europe is open to them.

"Their fight for freedom and democracy, for the values that we all share has demonstrated that Ukraine is indeed a member of our European family."

The UN announced on Friday there are now 2.5 million refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, with about 2 million people estimated to be displaced from their homes.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted that millions have been forced to leave their homes by this "senseless" war.

Read more: 'Ukraine is gonna win, Kyiv will not be taken': Defenders will prevail, says ex US general

Fierce fighting has continued on the ground in Kyiv, with Russian tanks advancing further into the capital's eastern region.

However, Putin's soldiers were forced to retreat after a line of Russian heavy armour was pummelled in a hail of explosions.

Other cities have now also come under attack. Lutsk and Dnipro have been targeted, joining cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol in enduring Russian strikes.

The British Ministry of Defence said the Kremlin was having to commit more troops to encircling important objectives and could get further bogged down.

"Due to strong resistance, Russian forces are committing an increased number of their deployed forces to encircle key cities," the ministry said in a tweet.

"This will reduce the number of forces available to continue their advance and will further slow Russian progress."

Read more: Beauty blogger accused by Russia of faking hospital strike injuries gives birth

It comes amid growing fears Putin could turn to using chemical weapons in Ukraine.

Boris Johnson said the potential escalation was "straight out of Russia's playbook", adding that Russia would already be preparing a "fake story" to blame the West after having already accused the US of developing its own chemical weapons.

A "robust" response will be used against Russia if the Kremlin uses chemical weapons in its invasion, Downing Street warned.

Asked how the UK responded to chemical attacks before, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "You saw after the Salisbury poisoning the UK's response as well as the response of other nations.

"But I wouldn't get into hypotheticals, you've seen what the Prime Minister said about the use of chemical weapons and the fact we're calling for Russia not to use them.

"The international community has always responded robustly following the use of chemical weapons, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals and try and look into the future, but you've seen what the Prime Minister's said and we continue to call for Russia not to use chemical weapons."

The update came as President Zelenskyy dismissed Russian claims that Ukraine was developing chemical weapons, with the US fearing Moscow themselves could deploy them as a "false flag" operation, a bid to try and provide some justification for invading.