By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Volodymyr Zelensky’s appeal came as Russia planned to send an additional 300,000 reservists to the frontlines after suffering significant battlefield setbacks.
And as clashes continued, referendums were underway in occupied territories to quickly make them part of Russia.
Zelensky, therefore, urged Russian troops to run away or surrender at the front. He added that it is better to hand themselves over to Ukraine peacefully than to be killed by their weapons or risk being tried as a war criminal after the conflict.
It follows Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation providing up to 10 years imprisonment for those who surrender voluntarily. Nearly 2,000 anti-war protestors detained Saturday and earlier in the week in Russia also rusk long prison terms.
However, President Zelenski pledged that Ukraine would treat deserters in line with international conventions and would not return anyone to Russia if afraid of repercussions. He also condemned referendums held since Friday in four occupied territories of Ukraine on whether to join Russia.
“The world will react absolutely justly to pseudo referendums. They will definitely be condemned. And the criminal mobilization that the occupiers are currently trying to carry out in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine, they still control,” he stressed in a video message.
“These are not just crimes against international law and the law of Ukraine.” President Zelensky added that these are “also crimes against specific people.” For instance, he said, “this is a deliberate attempt by Russia to destroy the Crimean Tartar people.”
He referred to the ongoing mobilization by Moscow of 300,000 Russian reservists to fight in Ukraine.
Zelensky warned that his motivating forces had already liberated about 9,000 square kilometers, or 3,475 square miles encompassing some 400 settlements.
As fighting continues, there have been several international attempts to bring the war to an end, including by the United Nations and Turkey.
While that resulted in grain shipments being resumed, there seems no appetite yet between Ukraine and Russia to end Europe’s largest armed conflict since World War Two.
Pope Francis, who in the past visited the Russian embassy in Rome hoping to end the war, asked for prayers for the “martyred Ukrainian people.”
Francis urged action from international leaders that they may find “the strength of will immediately to find effective initiatives to bring the war to an end.”
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.