Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a self-shot video from central Kyiv on Friday "we are all defending our independence," as attacks on the country by Russia continue, vowing alongside key aides to stay and defend the capital against the Russian invasion.
"We're all here. Our military is here. Citizens in society are here. We're all here defending our independence, our country, and it will stay this way," Zelenskyy said standing outside the presidency building.
Wearing olive green military-style clothing and standing with his prime minister, chief of staff and other senior aides, Zelenskyy appeared to be responding to pressure from Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
Sharing the video, European Council President Charles Michel voiced his deep respect to the Ukrainian president and the country's people. "The spirit of a free and democratic Ukraine is strong," he tweeted.
Russian troops bore down on Ukraine’s capital Friday, with gunfire and explosions resonating ever closer to the government quarter, in an invasion of a democratic country that has fueled fears of wider war in Europe and triggered worldwide efforts to make Russia stop.
With 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 Vladimir Putin’s Russia may be seeking to overthrow Ukraine’s government. It would be his boldest effort yet to redraw the world map and revive Moscow’s Cold War-era influence.
In the fog of war, it was unclear how much of Ukraine remains 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 Ukraine's embattled president instead of a gesture toward a diplomatic solution.