Ruissia’s Vladimir Putin wants to ‘drown Ukraine in blood’, his counterpart in Kyiv, Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed.
Speaking to Bild TV, the Ukraine president said Putin did not care if he was killing Russians as well as Ukrainians.
“He wants to drown Ukraine in blood, including the blood of his own soldiers,” said Zelensky.
The Ukrainian leader’s comments came hours after Putin announced a partial military mobilisation, with 300,000 reservists set to be called up to aid the war in Ukraine.
Putin also claimed “it’s not a bluff” when he vowed that Russia would use its weapons of mass destruction if its territory was threatened, raising the prospects the of a potential nuclear conflict.
The remarks have been condemned by world leaders, but Zelensky said he did not believe the world would allow Putin to use nuclear weapons and vowed to press on with liberating Ukrainian territory captured by Russian forces.
“I don’t believe that he (Putin) will use these weapons. I don’t think the world will allow him to use these weapons,” Zelensky said.
“Tomorrow Putin can say: apart from Ukraine, we also want a part of Poland, otherwise we will use nuclear weapons. We cannot make these compromises.”
Ukraine has recaptured swathes of its territory after a lightning counter-offensive in recent weeks, inflicting mounting casualties on Russian troops.
Putin’s mobilisation has come in response to Russia’s failings on the battlefield, Zelenskiy said.
“He sees that his units are simply running away,” Zelensky added.
He also brushed off plans by four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine to hold referendums later this month on joining Russia, saying they were a “sham” that would not be recognised by most countries.
“We will act according to our plans step by step. I’m sure we will liberate our territory,” he said.
The referendums are expected to begin on Friday in Luhansk, Kherson and the Russia-controlled portions of the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.
Western officials said Putin’s address to the Russian nation on Wednesday was a sign of panic following reverses on the ground, and growing international criticism of his invasion as well as the first consistent signs of dissent at home against his war.
Zelensky is set to address the UN General Assembly via video link later on Wednesday.
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