Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is nearing its second month, but there appears to be no sign of an end to hostilities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russian troops of attempting to “destroy” the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine, the region closest to Russia.
“Russian soldiers are preparing for an offensive in the east of our country in the near future. They literally want to finish off and destroy the Donbas,” Zelenskyy said in a video over the weekend.
“Just as the Russian military is destroying Mariupol, they want to destroy other cities and other communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, the president warned. He also vowed that Ukraine’s military would do everything in its power to defend the region.
Mariupol, a southern port city in Ukraine, has been the victim of consistent shelling since the start of the war. Reports from the region indicate that the Ukrainian forces are still holding the city, but the Russian military is now calling on the city’s defenders to throw down their arms or die.
The Russian government publicly stated that “all those who have given up their arms will be guaranteed to have their lives saved.” However, Ukrainian officials have indicated that the country’s military will defend the city “to the end,” and that the Russian military will destroy the city before the Ukrainian army surrenders.
Zelensky has also called on the West to ramp up its sanctions against Russia to make it more difficult for the country to fund its invasion. He has specifically singled out the country’s energy sector, noting that Russia has threatened to cut Europe off from its car reserves unless they loosen their sanctions.
Pope Francis called for peace in Europe during remarks on Easter Sunday. The holiday is typically a joyous occasion for worshippers, as it symbolizes rebirth and redemption. The Pope is the latest in a long list of leaders to call on Russia to stop its illegal invasion of its neighboring country.
“May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of this cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged,” said Pope Francis during the Easter address. “Please, please, let us not get used to war,” he went on, calling on Europe to denounce ”the flexing of muscles while people are suffering.”
Notably, the Pope didn’t call on Russian President Vladimir Putin by name, though his words elicited applause from the roughly 100,000 celebrants gathered in St. Peter’s Square.