Ukraine’s Zelenskyy claims new Russian 'genocide' in Donbas region

Ukrainian president claims it is obvious Moscow has a policy of genocide against the country

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy makes his nightly address to his people from Kyiv. Ukrainian Presidential Press Office / AP
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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday accused Russia of carrying out "an obvious policy of genocide" in his country's eastern Donbas region.

Moscow's offensive in Donbas could leave the region "uninhabited,", Mr Zelenskyy said, accusing the Russians of wanting to reduce its cities to ashes.

"All this, including the deportation of our people and the mass killings of civilians, is an obvious policy of genocide pursued by Russia," he said in his daily televised address.

Mr Zelenskyy said Russian forces were wiping some eastern towns from the face of the Earth.

“They want to turn Popasna, Bakhmut, Lyman, Lysychansk and Severodonetsk into ashes as they did with Volnovakha and Mariupol,” he said.

Mr Zelenskyy said at least nine people were killed and 19 wounded in the shelling on Thursday of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Among those killed was a five-month-old baby and the infant’s father, with the child’s mother seriously injured.

He also pleaded with the West on Thursday to send multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine as soon as possible to give it a chance against the Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas.

“We are fighting for Ukraine to be provided with all the weapons needed to change the nature of the fighting and start moving faster and more confidently towards the expulsion of the occupiers,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

He also had harsh words for members of the EU who are resisting imposing even tougher sanctions on Russia including import of its oil and gas, the major source of revenue for Moscow.

“Putting pressure on Russia is literally a matter of saving lives," Mr Zelenskyy said.

"And every day of delay, weakness, various debates, or proposals to ‘pacify’ the aggressor at the expense of the victim means more killed Ukrainians. These are new threats to everyone on our continent.

“Of course, I’m grateful to our friends who are pushing for new sanctions. But where did those blocking the sixth package of sanctions get so much power from?

"Why do they still have the right to have so much power, including on internal European procedures?”

Updated: May 27, 2022, 1:07 AM