Ex-Leader Joins the Fight, Current One Has Grim Line

Zelensky: 'This might be the last time you see me alive'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2022 11:55 AM CST

Like most men his age in former Soviet countries, former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko spent time in the military as a young man. The 56-year-old has now picked up a Kalashnikov again to defend Ukraine's capital from Russian invaders. Poroshenko, who left office in 2019, told CNN Friday that Vladimir Putin is "simply crazy." "Everybody should understand, Putin declared a war not for Ukraine. Putin declared a war to the whole world," he said. Russian troops entered the outskirts of Kyiv Friday. Poroshenko, who spoke surrounded by other defenders, said his battalion was about 1.5 miles from the fighting.

Poroshenko said Ukraine needs the West's assistance—including tough sanctions on Russia. He said Ukrainians are "free people with a great European future" and vowed that Putin would never capture the country, "no matter how many soldiers he kills, how many missiles he has, how many nuclear weapons he has." The AP reports that according to Britain's Ministry of Defense, "sporadic clashes" are happening in Kyiv, but the bulk of the Russian force advancing on the capital is 30 miles from the city center. A Pentagon official said Friday that Russian momentum appears to have slowed and "they are not moving on Kyiv as fast as they anticipated it going," the New York Times reports.

Ukraine's President Volodymr Zelensky urged citizens to resist the invasion and told the military to "stand strong" in a speech early Friday. He also told EU leaders that "this might be the last time you see me alive" as he requested more help, per Axios. Putin, meanwhile, urged Ukraine's military on Friday to overthrow the government. The Guardian reports that the Russian leader was "visibly angry" during a televised address in which he described the country's leaders as a "gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis" who have "taken hostage the entire Ukrainian people." It was far the first time Putin has falsely claimed that Zelensky, who is Jewish, is a Nazi, the BBC notes. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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