During a Monday video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy directly called on Russian forces to surrender and survive, urging them to ask themselves what they would be dying for in the war in Ukraine.
“I want to tell the Russian soldiers, those who have already entered our land and who are just about to be sent to fight against us,” Zelenskyy said. “You will not take anything from Ukraine. You will take lives. There are a lot of you. But your life will also be taken. But why should you die? What for?”
“I know that you want to survive,” Zelenskyy added. “We hear your conversations in the intercepts. We hear what you really think about this senseless war, about this disgrace and about your state. Your conversations with each other, your calls home to your family, we hear it all.”
“Therefore, I offer you a choice,” Zelenskyy continued. “On the behalf of the Ukrainian people, I give you a chance. A chance to survive. If you surrender to our forces, we will treat you the way people are supposed to be treated. As people, decently, in a way you were not treated in your army and in a way your army does not treat ours.”
Zelenskyy praised the Ukrainian defenses for continuing to hold out through its 19th day of fighting. The Ukrainian president said it was “another difficult day” but said Ukraine was “still approaching our victory.”
He said that the Russian military has not lived up to its own “propaganda” expectations of the invasion and have abandoned tons of equipment, which the Ukrainian side has adopted in its defenses.
“Today, Russian troops are, in fact, one of the suppliers of equipment to our army,” Zelenskyy said. “They could not imagine such a thing in a nightmare.”
Zelenskyy went on to note recently Ukrainian assessments of Russian losses in the fighting so far.
As of Tuesday, the Ukrainian side claimed it has damaged or destroyed 404 Russian tanks, 1,279 armored fighting vehicles, 150 artillery pieces, 64 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRSs), 36 anti-aircraft systems, 81 warplanes, 95 helicopters, nine drones, three warships, 60 fuel trucks and 640 other vehicles. The Ukrainian side also claimed its forces have killed more than 13,500 Russian troops in nearly three weeks of fighting.
Zelenskyy’s comments are not the first time the Ukrainian side has called on Russian forces to surrender. Earlier this month, Ukraine’s defense ministry offered to pay 5 million rubles (currently worth about $46,948 USD) to each Russian soldier that agreed to surrender.