Zelenskyy urges Russian people to stand up to Putin and 'overcome evil'

6 March 2022, 15:43 | Updated: 8 March 2022, 13:08

  • Evacuation of civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol halted for the second day in a row
  • Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges Russian people to fight back against their government
  • An airport in the city of Vinnytsia has been completely destroyed by Russian shelling
  • In the town of Irpin a bridge was destroyed and a mother and her two children were killed attempting to flee
  • Russia plans to bomb Ukraine's third biggest city Odesa, Mr Zelenskyy says
  • Russian forces are reportedly firing rockets at a physics institute in Kharkiv that contains nuclear material and a reactor
  • Russia's Vladimir Putin has spoken to French and Turkish presidents Emmanuel Macron and Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  • Mr Putin told Mr Erdogan he will only halt his country's military operation if Ukraine stops fighting, Kremlin says
Residents flee from Irpin town as the Russian invasion enters its 11th day
Residents flee from Irpin town as the Russian invasion enters its 11th day. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the Russian people to stand up to their government and "overcome evil" on the 11th day Vladimir Putin's horrific invasion.

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"The nationals of Russian Federation are making their choice as well right now," Mr Zelenskyy said during an address on Sunday.

"This is the time when we can overcome evil, when it's not too late, when you can only lose your job but not go to gulag... don't miss your opportunity."

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He added: "We are Ukrainians and we want peace. Russian nationals: this is the fight not just for the peace in Ukraine. This is the fight for your freedom for your life.

"If you stay silent now, then in the future only your poverty will speak on your behalf. Don't be silent."

Mr Zelenskyy also revealed on Sunday that Russian rockets had completely destroyed an airport in the city of Vinnytsia, about 160 miles southwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

He described the attack as "brutal" and "cynical", adding "they continue total destruction of our infrastructure", and reiterated the request for Western countries to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Meanwhile in Irpin, near Kyiv, a bridge was destroyed by Russian shells. A mother and her two children were killed while attempting to flee the town.

Mr Zelenskyy said the Russians are also planning to bomb Ukraine's third biggest city, the historic southern port of Odesa.

The destroyed bridge in Irpin
The destroyed bridge in Irpin. Picture: Alamy

"Russian people always used to come to Odesa and they always were welcome there," he said.

"And what now? Bombs against Odesa, missiles against Odesa. This is going to be a war crime."

Ukraine's national security service said Russian forces are firing rockets at a physics institute in the city of Kharkiv that contains nuclear material and a reactor.

The service said a strike on the nuclear facility could lead to "large-scale ecological disaster", amid concerns the missiles being used do not have precise targeting and one would go astray.

It came as a Ukrainian official said a second attempt to evacuate civilians from another port city, Mariupol, failed due to continued Russian shelling.

Evacuations were scheduled to begin at noon local time during a 10am to 9pm local ceasefire, Ukrainian military authorities said earlier on Sunday.

Interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said the planned evacuations along designated humanitarian corridors were halted because of an ongoing assault.

"There can be no 'green corridors' because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start shooting and at whom," he said on Telegram.

A similar ceasefire planned for Mariupol and the nearby city of Volnovakha collapsed on Saturday, trapping residents under more shelling and aerial bombardment by Russian forces.

Mr Putin spoke on the phone to French and Turkish presidents Emmanuel Macron and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday.

In a statement following a one-hour call, the Turkish presidency said Mr Erdogan called for an urgent ceasefire to "address humanitarian concerns" and "seek a political solution" to the conflict.

Mr Erdogan called for the opening of humanitarian corridors and a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine.

Turkey has extensive ties with both Russia and Ukraine, and has sought to place itself as a mediator.

It has invited both countries to a diplomatic forum in Antalya next week.

The Kremlin said Mr Putin told Mr Erdogan he will only halt his country's military operation if Ukraine stops fighting and Moscow's demands are met.

There is no word yet on what was discussed in Mr Macron's call, which lasted one hour and 45 minutes.