Ukrainian president says he’s Russia’s ‘target No. 1’

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Feb. 24 (UPI) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told his country in an early Friday address that Russian saboteurs had entered the capital Kyiv and that he was Russia’s “target No. 1.”

The six-minute video published on social media was to inform Ukrainians about the state of their nation at the end of the first day of fighting against Russia after it conducted an early morning invasion on Thursday.

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Zelensky, speaking in Ukrainian, said at least 137 Ukrainians, including military personnel and civilians, were killed in the fighting.

“They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets,” he said, refuting the Kremlin’s claim that only military sites were being attacked.

He said that military intelligence indicates that he has been marked by Russia as its no. 1 target and his family as no. 2 as “they want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of the state.”

Despite the threat, he and his family still reside in Ukraine but would not state where they are.

“I stay in the capital. I stay with my people,” he said. “And I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine. My children are also in Ukraine. My family is not traitors. They are the citizens of Ukraine.”

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He also instructed Ukrainians in Kyiv to be alert and to abide by the 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew put in place by Mayor Vitaly Klitschko as “enemy sabotage groups” have entered the city.

Concerning international support, he told Ukrainians that they are on their own.

He said he asked 27 leaders of Europe whether Ukraine will be admitted to the NATO military alliance and received no answer.

“We are left to our own devices in defense of our state,'” he said.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a press conference that the Biden administration is “in touch” with Zelensky.

“We are working to provide him with a range of support,” she said.

Hours earlier, Zelensky signed a decree ordering general mobilization to counter the Russian invasion.

“Today is the moment when every Ukrainian who can protect his home must take up arms,” the Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a statement about the decree. “Not just to help soldiers but to cleanse Ukraine of the enemy once and for all.”

According to the ministry, Russia lost 30 tanks, 130 armored combat vehicles, six helicopters and five aircraft.

The State Border Guard Service said that due to martial law imposed Thursday by the president, men between the ages of 18 and 60 are prohibited from leaving the country.

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Russia’s anticipated invasion of Ukraine occurred at about 5 a.m. Thursday. It followed the Kremlin’s months-long military buildup of some 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine.