Calling Ukraine the “key for freedom in the world,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko urged support Thursday for his country in the face of what he called “this senseless war” with Russia.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Klitschko said Ukraine is a peaceful country that was not aggressive to anyone, and that Ukrainians want to be “part of the European family” with a priority on human rights, press freedom and “democratic standards of life.”
He said the Russian government wants to rebuild the Soviet Union and would not stop with a takeover of Ukraine.
“We’re defending not just our family and our children, we’re defending you because we have the same values,” Klitschko said, adding that Russia will go as far as it is allowed to go.
He thanked those who have supported Ukraine politically, economically and by sending weapons, and those who have taken in Ukrainians refugees.
Noting that it has been more than 90 days since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Klitschko said it feels to him like “one long, long day.”
In an address late Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected the idea of ceding parts of Ukraine to Russia to reach a peace agreement.
Zelenskyy said those who make such suggestions disregard “the millions of those who actually live on the territory that they propose exchanging for an illusion of peace.”
“We always have to think of the people and remember that values are not just words,” he said.
Fighting in recent weeks has been focused in the eastern Donbas region where Russia has been trying to seize control after failing to topple Zelenskyy or capture Kyiv.
The Ukrainian governor of the eastern region of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, described the situation around the industrial hub of Severodonetsk as “very difficult” and said there was “already fighting on the outskirts.”
“Russian troops have advanced far enough that they can already fire mortars” on the city, he said.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin issued an order that would fast-track Russian citizenship to people living in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. There is already a program to fast-track citizenship for people living in the Donbas.
Meanwhile, the European Union, Britain and the United States announced the creation of what they called the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group to coordinate with Ukraine on investigations of possible Russian war crimes during the three months of fighting.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.