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Zelenskyy said there were operational differences between Russian forces today and the Nazis during World War II, but said Moscow’s persistent lies are what separates the two.
“Russian troops manage to be even more cynical than the Nazis 80 years ago,” he said. “At that time, the invaders did not say that it was the Mariupol residents and the defenders of the city who shelled and killed themselves.”
Russia has made it known that its goal is to completely control the eastern regions encompassing the Donbas as part of its “special military operation.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly claimed, without supporting evidence, that his plans are to “denazify” Ukraine and liberate Russian sympathizers who are oppressed.
Zelenskyy, who was democratically elected and Jewish, has flatly rejected these accusations.
“If the Russian invaders succeed in realizing their plans, at least in part, they will still have enough artillery and aircraft to destroy the entire Donbas,” he said. “Just as they destroyed Mariupol.
“The city, which was one of the most developed in the region, is simply a Russian concentration camp in the middle of ruins,” he added.
Mariupol has been one of the hardest-hit cities during Russia’s war in Ukraine and remains contested as Russia has been unable to gain complete control over it – despite claims of victory by Putin earlier this month.
A senior defense official told reporters Friday that Russia is attempting to take control over the Donbas by pinching it from the north through Izyum, up through Mariupol in the south and across from previously held eastern strongholds.
“But they’re running straight into stiff Ukrainian resistance. So that’s why we think this progress has been slow and uneven,” the official said. “We do believe and assess that they are behind schedule in what they were trying to accomplish in the Donbas.”
Congress this week revived a WWII-era program that was instrumental in helping to defeat the Nazis by removing certain parameters to allow allies to more efficiently receive military assistance.
The “lend-lease program” will provide easier lending defense options to Kyiv as well as to “Eastern European countries affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Zelenskyy championed the move and said, “I am sure that now the Lend-Lease will help Ukraine and the whole free world beat the ideological successors of the Nazis, who started a war against us on our land.
“Lend-Lease and other programs in support of Ukraine are concrete proof that freedom is still able to defend itself against tyranny,” he added.