REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, KIEV – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Russians to take to the streets and protest against Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine. According to him, such demonstrations are a form of struggle for Russia.
“Russian citizens! For you, this is a struggle not only for peace in Ukraine! This is a fight for your country,” Zelensky said in a televised address Sunday.
He also hinted at the potential major impact of layered economic sanctions by the West on Russia. “If you (Russian citizens) are silent now, only your poverty will speak for you later. And only repression will answer,” Zelensky said.
He stressed that, like Ukrainians, Russians now face a choice between life and slavery. On Sunday, thousands of citizens scattered in various regions of Russia staged protests against Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine. They also cast sharp criticism on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At least 559 Russian citizens who participated in the demonstration were arrested by security forces. However, there is also data that states that the authorities arrested and detained more than 2,000 demonstrators. Russia began its attack on Ukraine on February 24. Military facilities and sites are Moscow’s main targets.
According to Zelensky Russian troops managed to capture the city of Kherson and besieged the port of Mariupol. Now Russian troops are ready to launch an attack on Odessa, a historic port city on the Black Sea coast.
The attack on Ukraine was the aftermath of the “ignorance” of Russia’s demands for security guarantees to the North Atlantic Defense Organization (NATO). Moscow asked NATO not to open the door to Ukraine’s membership in the alliance.
According to Putin, if Kiev joins NATO, there is a possibility that they will try to retake Crimea. Russia is known to have annexed Crimea in 2014. Putin considered that if Ukraine took such a step, Russia would have to face NATO head on. Thus, war was inevitable.
Putin admitted, in military posture, Russia lost when compared to NATO. But he also reminded that Russia is one of the world’s nuclear powers. In Putin’s view, there will be no winner if Russia goes to war with NATO.