President Zelenskyy Refused To Leave Kyiv While Russian Strike Teams Parachuted Into The Capital
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A new account has shed light on how Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused to leave his compound in Kyiv as Russian assassination squads attempted to storm the building.
In the early weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces made many attempts to get to Zelenskyy.
TIME reports how the Ukrainian President’s bravery and loyalty to his country were tested early on in the war, as those inside the presidential compound armed themselves with weapons on February 24.
The presidential guard had attempted to block up the compound by any means possible, using police barricades and plywood boards as Ukrainian troops fought back Russians in the streets of Kyiv.
Russian strike teams had also reportedly parachuted into the capital city in an attempt to assassinate Zelenskyy and his family.
Chief of Staff, Andriy Yermak told TIME: "Before that night, we had only ever seen such things in the movies.”
British and American forces offered to evacuate Zelenskyy and his team to a compound outside Ukraine to set up a government in exile.
In response, Zelenskyy replied: “I need ammunition, not a ride.”
Zelenskyy and his team were given bulletproof vests and assault rifles to defend themselves.
Oleksiy Arestovych, of Ukraine's military intelligence service, was there and spoke to TIME about that night.
He said: “It was an absolute madhouse. Automatics for everyone."
Arestovych says the President’s wife and children were still at the compound as well.
It was that next day, on February 25, that Zelenskyy took to the open streets of Kyiv to film a video message to broadcast out to the world.
Posting on social media, he says in the video: “We are here. We are in Kyiv. We defend Ukraine.
“Our military are here, our citizens and society are here. We are all here defending our independence, our state, and this is how it's going to be.
"Glory to our defenders, men and women. Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes."
⚡️Ukraine’s Zelensky posts a new video of himself and his team outside the presidential administration in Kyiv’s government quarter after rumors in Russian media that he’d fled. “We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine.” pic.twitter.com/bgHyrsbVFs— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) February 25, 2022
Speaking to TIME, Zelenskyy said he quickly understood his role in the war.
He said: “You understand that they’re watching. You’re a symbol. You need to act the way the head of state must act."
The Ukrainian President even made the trip to the front line of the city to experience the impact of the events up close and talk to the soldiers that were fighting for Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces have remained as steadfast as their President in their resistance against Russia.
As of April 17, the General Staff of Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that Ukrainian defenders have eliminated approximately 20,300 Russian invaders.