The Russians have the firepower “to turn the Donbass into stones”

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of trying to destroy Donbass and everyone who lives there.

“The constant brutal shelling, the constant Russian strikes on infrastructure and residential areas show that Russia wants to empty this territory of all people. Therefore, the defense of our land, the defense of our people, is literally a fight for life,” he said Friday night in his nightly video address to the nation.

He said that the towns and villages of Donbass would only survive if Ukraine remained standing. “If the Russian invaders are able to carry out their plans, even partially, then they have enough artillery and planes to turn all of Donbass into stones. As they did with Mariupol.

Zelensky said Mariupol, once one of the region’s most developed cities, was now a “Russian concentration camp among the ruins”.

In Kharkiv, a major northern city, the situation was “brutal” but Ukrainian troops and intelligence operatives “had significant tactical successes”, he said without giving further details.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said around 20% of the city’s residential buildings were so badly damaged that it will be impossible to restore them.

Zelensky said rescuers were still scouring the rubble in Kyiv after Thursday’s missile strikes. He expressed his condolences to the family of Vira Hyrych, who was killed in the bombardment. He said she was the 23rd journalist killed during the war.

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