‘This night will be tough,’ Zelensky says, predicting an escalating Russian offensive.
Russian forces will make an all-out attack on Ukraine tonight, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address to his country, declaring that “the fate of Ukraine is now being decided.”
“This night, the enemy will use all the forces available to break our resistance — treacherously, viciously, inhumanly,” Mr. Zelensky said in a speech posted online after midnight on Saturday, according to a translation provided by his office. “This night, they will make an assault upon us. We all have to understand what we are going to face. This night, we have to withstand.”
Looking haggard, he listed several Ukrainian cities that he said were being targeted, including Kyiv, the capital, and Kharkiv, the second-largest city, which is near the Russian border in the east. “Kyiv requires special attention,” he said. “We cannot lose the capital.”
Mr. Zelensky accused Russian forces of striking civilian targets, including kindergartens, housing and an orphanage. “The invaders have to come up with more and more absurd accusations,” he said, referring to Kremlin claims that Ukraine is under the control of Nazis. He added that “nobody will believe them,” including the people of Russia.
“What is this war against Ukrainian children in a kindergarten?” he asked. “Who are they? Are they neo-Nazis from kindergarten as well?”
Appealing to the Ukrainian people, he said: “Defend our state. The night will be tough, very tough. But the morning will come.”
Russian troops on Friday had entered a northern district of Kyiv, a city that was home to 2.8 million people before the invasion that began on Thursday prompted many of them to flee. U.S. officials say the Russians have met stiffer resistance than expected but warned that Moscow had sent into Ukraine only 30 percent of the 150,000 to 190,000 troops it had massed at the border ahead of the assault and that it could escalate its offensives at any time.
The Biden administration has warned that Kyiv could fall quickly.
The Ukrainian authorities on Friday urged the residents of Kyiv to “prepare Molotov cocktails” to help defend themselves.
Even so, Mr. Zelensky said, “Our main goal is to end this slaughter.”