Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges President Joe Biden to send a strong message on Russia in State of the Union

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged his US counterpart Joe Biden to deliver a strong and “useful” message on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, in an exclusive interview with CNN and Reuters from the bunker in Kiev where he is leading his army’s response.

“It’s very serious…I’m not in a movie,” Zelensky, a former comedy actor, told CNN. “I’m not iconic, I think Ukraine is iconic… Ukraine is the heart of Europe, and now I think Europe sees Ukraine as something special for this world. That is why [the] the world cannot lose that special something.”

In the rare interview with international media on Tuesday, Zelensky said that as long as Moscow’s assault on Ukrainian cities continued, little progress could be made in the talks.

“You have to talk first. Everyone has to stop fighting and leave [back] up to this point where it started five or six days ago,” Zelensky said. that, that means they are ready for peace. If they (are not) ready, it means you are wasting time.”

When asked if he thought Ukraine was wasting time talking to Russia, he replied: “We’ll see.”

Officials from the two countries met on Monday for the first time since the Russian invasion began last week.

Fresh strikes rocked Kyiv on Tuesday as Russia stepped up its assault on the capital and other key locations. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, there are fears that Russia may attempt to destroy the city’s communications infrastructure after hitting an area near Kiev’s TV tower, removing broadcast equipment.

Zelensky has drawn praise from media around the world for his response to Russia’s invasion, after refusing offers to evacuate and instead sending frequent messages to Ukrainians as Kiev comes under attack.

On Tuesday he received a standing ovation as he addressed the European Parliament via video link, telling delegates: “We are fighting for our lives”. He also called for Ukraine to be admitted to the EU as a matter of urgency.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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