'I do not believe this war is in your name': Boris addresses Russians

‘I do not believe this war is in your name’: Boris addresses people of Russia in their own language in video message as he calls for an end to the ‘tragedy’ unfolding in Ukraine

  • PM said the scenes unfolding in streets of Ukraine ‘nothing short of a tragedy’
  • He urged an end to conflict because world ‘needs a free and sovereign Ukraine’ 
  • Russian missiles pounded Kyiv on Friday as families cowered in bomb shelters

Boris Johnson has addressed a message to the people of Russia in their own language, saying: ‘I do not believe this war is in your name.’ 

The British Prime Minister, in a video posted on social media, called for the end of the ‘tragedy’ unfolding in Ukraine, as brave Ukrainians tonight resisted Vladimir Putin’s attempts to take control of Kyiv.

Russian missiles pounded Kyiv on Friday as families cowered in bomb shelters and authorities told people to prepare petrol bombs to defend their capital.

Mr Johnson said ‘the scenes unfolding in the streets and fields of Ukraine are nothing short of a tragedy,’ adding that the world has not witnessed such bloodshed in Europe in a generation or more.

The British Prime Minister, in a video posted on social media, called for the end of the ‘tragedy’ unfolding in Ukraine, as brave Ukrainians tonight resisted Vladimir Putin’s attempts to take control of Kyiv

Russian soldiers on the amphibious infantry fighting vehicle BMP-2 move towards mainland Ukraine on the road near Armiansk, Crimea, on Friday

Firemen extinguish a fire inside a residential building damaged by a missile on Friday in Kyiv, Ukraine

In the video, where the PM also spoke Ukrainian, he urged an end to the conflict ‘because the world needs a free and sovereign Ukraine’. 

Johnson also urged Russians to oppose the invasion, which he called ‘a tragedy for Russia’ as well as for Ukraine.

Speaking in Russian, he said: ‘I do not believe this war is in your name.’

Mr Johnson added: ‘The scenes unfolding in the streets and fields of Ukraine are nothing short of a tragedy.

‘Brave young soldiers and innocent civilians are being cut down, tanks are rumbling through towns and cities, missiles raining indiscriminately from the skies.

‘It’s a generation or more since we witnessed such bloodshed in Europe. We hoped we would never have to see such sights again.’

‘The people of the United Kingdom stand with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in this unjustifiable assault on your homeland. 

‘We salute the fierce bravery and patriotism of your government, your military and your people.’

Sisters embrace after crossing the border from Ukraine at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, on Friday

Ukrainian soldiers are pictured forming up across a highway in Kyiv as they prepare to defend the city from Russian attackers, with gunfire and explosions heard in the centre of the capital

Russian armour is now advancing on Kyiv from the north and east, with US intelligence saying the plan is to besiege the city, capture an airport, and fly in paratroopers who would then attack the capital. The aim would be to capture the government and force them to sign a peace treaty handing control of the country back to Russia or a Russian puppet

Mr Johnson earlier announced the UK will ‘imminently’ level personal sanctions against Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

The Prime Minister told Nato leaders in a virtual meeting on Friday that the UK would echo measures announced by the EU to target the Russian leader.

President Joe Biden later announced that the US was freezing the assets of Mr Putin and Mr Lavrov.    

Referring to Mr Putin’s wish to recover territory which previously fell under the USSR, Mr Johnson said Russia was ‘engaging in a revanchist mission to overturn the post-Cold War order’.

Mr Johnson told allies ‘the UK would introduce sanctions against President Putin and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov imminently, on top of the sanctions package the UK announced yesterday’, according to a No 10 spokesman.

‘He warned the group that the Russian president’s ambitions might not stop there and that this was a Euro-Atlantic crisis with global consequences,’ he said.

The Prime Minister also used the meeting to urge ‘immediate action’ over the banning of Russia from the Swift payment system to ‘inflict maximum pain’ on the Kremlin.

Natali Sevriukova, a resident of Kyiv, is pictured weeping on the streets of Kyiv after a Russian rocket strike destroyed the apartment block where she lives overnight

An Ukrainian military medic approaches the bodies of Russian servicemen wearing a Ukrainian army uniforms lying beside and inside a vehicle after they were shot during a skirmish in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv

In a further move, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced he is extending a ban on Aeroflot flights landing in the UK to cover Russian private jets.

The move to sanction President Putin and Mr Lavrov comes after the European Union announced it was considering a similar move against the two men as it set out its latest round of measures in concert with the US and the UK.

The UK Government has faced criticism that it has still not gone far enough despite measures to hit five further oligarchs, and targeting more than 100 businesses and individuals.

With Russian forces continuing to advance towards Kyiv, beleaguered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said sanctions had so far done nothing to deter the Russian onslaught.

Meanwhile Western officials have warned that the Russians could resort to thermobaric weapons – used to generate powerful, high-temperature explosions – if the Ukrainian military resistance continues to hold up their assault.

On Friday, Russian troops bore down on Kyiv on Friday, with explosions and gunfire sounding in the city.

Amid reports of hundreds of casualties from the warfare – including shelling that sliced through a Kyiv apartment building and pummeled bridges and schools – there also were growing signs that Russia may be seeking to overthrow Ukraine’s government, which U.S. officials have described as Putin’s ultimate objective. 

It would be his boldest effort yet to redraw the world map and revive Moscow’s Cold War-era influence.

People exit the border crossing station after fleeing Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in Medyka, Poland, on Friday

NATO decided to send parts of the alliance’s response force to help protect its member nations in the east for the first time. NATO did not say how many troops would be deployed but added that it would involve land, sea and air power.

The Russian military continued its advance, laying claim Friday to the southern Ukraine city of Melitopol. Still, it was unclear in the fog of war how much of Ukraine is still under Ukrainian control and how much or little Russian forces have seized.

The Kremlin accepted Kyiv’s offer to hold talks, but it appeared to be an effort to squeeze concessions out of embattled President Zelenskyy instead of a gesture toward a diplomatic solution. Zelenskyy’s spokesman, Sergii Nikiforov, said Ukraine nonetheless remains ‘ready to discuss a cease-fire and peace.’

The U.S. and other global powers slapped ever-tougher sanctions on Russia as the invasion reverberated through the world’s economy and energy supplies, threatening to further hit ordinary households. U.N. officials said millions could flee Ukraine. 

Sports leagues moved to punish Russia and even the popular Eurovision song contest banned it from the May finals in Italy.

The second day of Russia’s invasion, the largest ground war in Europe since World War II, focused on the Ukrainian capital, where Associated Press reporters heard explosions starting before dawn and gunfire was reported in several areas.

After 8 p.m., a large boom was heard near Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the square in central Kyiv that was the heart of protests which led to the 2014 ouster of a Kremlin-friendly president. The cause was not immediately known.

Five explosions struck near a major power plant on Kyiv’s eastern outskirts, said Mayor Vitaly Klitschko. There was no information on what caused them, and no electrical outages were immediately reported.

Russia’s military said it seized a strategic airport outside Kyiv, allowing it to quickly build up forces to take the capital. It claimed to have already cut the city off from the west – the direction taken by many to escape the invasion – leading to lines of cars snaking toward the Polish border.

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed to have blocked off the cities of Sumy and Konotop and said that the offensive had netted dozens of Ukrainian military assets. The statement could not be independently confirmed.

Intense gunfire broke out on a bridge across the Dnieper River dividing eastern and western Kyiv, while another key bridge to the capital was blown away.

Ukrainian officials reported at least 137 deaths on their side and claimed hundreds on the Russian one. Russian authorities released no casualty figures, and it was not possible to verify the tolls.

U.N. officials reported 25 civilian deaths, mostly from shelling and airstrikes, and said that 100,000 people were believed to have left their homes, estimating up to 4 million could flee if the fighting escalates.

Ukrainian servicemen ride on tanks towards the front line with Russian forces in the Lugansk region of Ukraine on Friday

Zelenskyy tweeted that he and U.S. President Joe Biden spoke by phone and discussed ‘strengthening sanctions, concrete defense assistance and an antiwar coalition,’ adding that he was grateful for Washington’s support.

His whereabouts were kept secret after telling European leaders in a call Thursday night that he was Russia’s No. 1 target – and that they might not see him again alive. His office later released a video of him standing with senior aides outside the presidential office, saying he and other government officials would stay in the capital.

‘All of us are here protecting our independence of our country,’ Zelenskyy said. ‘And it will continue to be this way. Glory to our defenders, glory to Ukraine, glory to heroes.’

A U.S. defense official said a Russian amphibious assault was underway, and thousands of Russian forces were moving ashore from the Sea of Azov, west of Mariupol. 

The official said Ukrainian air defenses have been degraded but are still operating, and that about a third of the combat power that Russia had massed around Ukraine is now inside the country. They estimated Russia had fired more than 200 missiles into Ukraine, with some hitting residential areas.

A senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of current intelligence assessments said that Russian armor is 50 kilometers (31 miles) to both the north and west of Kyiv.

Zelenskyy earlier offered to negotiate on a key Putin demand: that Ukraine declare itself neutral and abandon its ambition of joining NATO. 

The Kremlin said Kyiv initially agreed to have talks in Minsk, then said it would prefer Warsaw and later halted communications. 

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said later that Kyiv would discuss prospects for talks on Saturday.

The assault was anticipated for weeks by the U.S. and Western allies and denied to be in the works just as long by Putin. He argued the West left him with no other choice by refusing to negotiate Russia’s security demands.

People look at the exterior of a damaged residential block hit by an early morning missile strike on Friday in Kyiv

In a window into how the increasingly isolated Putin views Ukraine and its leadership, he urged Ukraine’s military to surrender, saying: ‘We would find it easier to agree with you than with that gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who have holed up in Kyiv and have taken the entire Ukrainian people hostage.’

Playing on Russian nostalgia for World War II heroism, the Kremlin equates members of Ukrainian right-wing groups with neo-Nazis. Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, angrily dismisses those claims.

Putin has not disclosed his ultimate plans for Ukraine. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave a hint, saying ‘We want to allow the Ukrainian people to determine its own fate.’ Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia recognizes Zelenskyy as the president, but would not say how long the Russian military operation could last.

Ukrainians abruptly adjusted to life under fire, after Russian forces invaded the country from three sides as they massed an estimated 150,000 troops nearby.

Residents of a Kyiv apartment building woke to screaming, smoke and flying dust. What the mayor identified as Russian shelling tore off part of the building and ignited a fire.

‘What are you doing? What is this?’ resident Yurii Zhyhanov asked Russian forces. Like countless other Ukrainians, he grabbed what belongings he could, took his mother, and fled, car alarms wailing behind him.

Elsewhere in Kyiv, the body of a dead soldier lay near an underpass. Fragments of a downed aircraft smoked amid the brick homes of a residential area. Black plastic was draped over body parts found beside them. And people climbed out of bomb shelters, basements and subways to face another day of upheaval.

‘We’re all scared and worried. We don’t know what to do then, what’s going to happen in a few days,’ said Lucy Vashaka, 20, a worker at a small Kyiv hotel.

Ukrainian military vehicles move past Independence square in central Kyiv on Thursday

There were signs of significant fighting near Ivankiv, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Kyiv. Russian troops also entered the city of Sumy, near the border with Russia that sits on a highway leading to Kyiv from the east. A Russian missile launcher was seen on the outskirts of Kharkiv in the east.

The invasion began early Thursday with missile strikes on cities and military bases, followed by a ground assault that rolled troops in from separatist-held areas in the east; from the southern region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014; and from Belarus to the north.

After Ukrainian officials said they lost control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Russia said it was working with Ukrainians to secure the plant. 

Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington said the Russians were holding 92 workers hostage at the plant, forcing them to continue running the facility and defying safety rules.

The Biden administration said Friday that it would move to freeze the assets of Putin and Lavrov, following the European Union and Britain in directly sanctioning top Russian leadership.

Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, called the sanctions against Putin and Lavrov ‘an example and a demonstration of a total helplessness’ of the West.

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