In the early hours of Saturday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy released a video address in which he told Moscow that now was the time for urgent peace talks, warning that Russian losses will otherwise be so huge it will take generations to recover.
Here are some of the key points from his speech:
Russia has continued to block the supply of aid to besieged cities “in most areas”
Zelenskiy said that on Friday there were seven humanitarian corridors in Ukraine. Six in the Sumy region, one in the Donetsk region.
More than 9,000 people were evacuated from the besieged Mariupol, he said, and hundreds of tons of essential products were delivered. But he added: “The occupiers continue to block the supply of humanitarian aid to the besieged cities in most areas. This is a totally deliberate tactic. They have a clear order to do absolutely everything to make the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukrainian cities an ‘argument’ for Ukrainians to cooperate with the occupiers. This is a war crime.”
No new information on fatalities following a Russian airstrike on a theatre in Mariupol
Zelenskiy said people were being rescued from the rubble, and that more than 130 people had been rescued so far. “Some of them are seriously wounded. But at the moment there is no information about the dead,” he said. Hundreds of civilians were sheltering in the theatre.
He thanked those defending Mariupol, saying the city was experiencing “the greatest ordeal in its history, in the history of Ukraine.”
Russian forces had been stopped “in almost all directions”
Zelenskiy said Russian forces were halted across many areas of the country. He said there was heavy fighting in the Kharkiv region, especially near Izyum, but that Russian troops were unprepared.
“Meaningful, fair” negotiations were urgently needed.
Zelenskiy told Moscow: “It’s time to meet. Time to talk. It is time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise Russia’s losses will be so huge that several generations will not be enough to rebound.”
He said: “Negotiations on peace, on security for us, for Ukraine – meaningful, fair and without delay – are the only chance for Russia to reduce the damage from its own mistakes.”
On the international response:
Zelenskiy said he would continue to appeal to world leaders to call for peace in Ukraine, with plans to address Switzerland, Italy, Israel and Japan. He has spoken with Ukrainian ambassadors around the world “to intensify the supply of humanitarian goods” for displaced people in Ukraine. A coordination headquarters has also been set up to oversee the delivery of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, he said.