(breitbart) – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky declared that he is still in the capital of Kyiv (Kiev) in a video purporting to show the leader from the streets of the embattled city in the early hours of Saturday morning after reportedly shutting down a plea from the Biden administration to flee.
Addressing apparent rumours of an evacuation from Kyiv amid a Russian assault, Zelensky posted a video on his official Twitter account to claim that this was fake news and that he is still on the ground of the Ukrainian capital.
“I’m here in the ground, we will not lay down our arms. We will defend our state because our weapon is our truth. Our truth is that this is our land, our country, and our children. And we will defend all this,” the president said according to a translation from state news agency Ukrinform.
Zelensky’s video came just hours after the Associated Press reported that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden had called on Zelensky to evacuate the city.
According to the news agency, citing a “senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation”, the Ukrainian president replied by saying: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”
Meanwhile, Russia has claimed that Zelensky has fled the capital for Lvov (Lviv) in Western Ukraine, claiming that the videos released by the Ukrainian president were recorded before his departure from Kyiv.
According to Russian state media outlet Sputnik, the Speaker of the State Duma — the lower house of Russia’s parliament — Vyacheslav Volodin, said on Saturday morning: “Zelensky hastily left Kyiv. He was not in the capital of Ukraine yesterday. Together with his entourage, he fled to the city of Lvov, where he and his assistants were equipped with a place to live.”
Fighting is ongoing in Kyiv’s environs, and city mayor and former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko has claimed that 35 people were injured in fighting between Ukrainian forces and “sabotage groups” as of 6 a.m. local time on Saturday.
Health Minister Viktor Liashko asserted that since Russian strongman Vladimir Putin launched a “full-scale” invasion of Ukraine, there have been 198 civilians killed, including three children. The health minister went on to claim that 1,115 people, including 33 children, have been wounded in the fighting.
A view of a high-rise apartment block which was hit by recent shelling in Kyiv on February 26, 2022. Ukrainian soldiers repulsed a Russian attack in the capital, the military said on February 26th after a defiant President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed his pro-Western country would not be bowed by Moscow. It started the third day since Russian leader Vladimir Putin unleashed a full-scale invasion that has killed dozens of people, forced more than 50,000 to flee Ukraine in just 48 hours and sparked fears of a wider conflict in Europe. (Photo by GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images)
Russia has so far refrained from confirming losses in any details, but an adviser to the Ukrainian President’s Office, Mykhailo Podoliak, claimed on Saturday morning that 3,500 Russian forces have been killed.
“As of this morning, 3,500 people have been killed and a little less than 200 prisoners [taken],” he said.
According to a report from the Moscow correspondent for Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Nataliya Vasilyeva, the spokesman for Russia’s Defence Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, claims that their forces have so far destroyed over 100 Ukrainian military targets.
Speaking this morning, Konashenkov reportedly said that 87 Ukrainian tanks, seven planes, and 9 helicopters had been destroyed.
The spokesman also doubled down on Russia’s assertion that they have not been targetting civilians, saying that “Russian troops are taking all the necessary measures to ensure the safety of civilians.”
The Ukrainian government, for its part, has said that they will launch an appeal with the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing the Russian of committing “war crimes” with an alleged shelling of a kindergarten on Friday.
Aside from confirming that he is still on the ground in Kyiv, President Zelensky also said on Saturday morning that the “crucial moment” has come to decide whether Ukraine should be admitted into the European Union.
“It is a crucial moment to close the long-standing discussion once and for all and decide on Ukraine’s membership in the EU. Discussed with [European Council president Charles Michel] further effective assistance and the heroic struggle of Ukrainians for their free future,” Zelensky said.