Zelenskyy calls for release of kidnapped mayor, says Russian army is suffering ‘big casualties’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Russian military was suffering “huge casualties” in its war against Ukraine and called for the urgent release of the mayor of Melitopol, who was allegedly kidnapped by Russian forces on Friday.
“Russian troops are suffering heavy casualties. We could now even speak of the biggest strike against the Russian troops in tens of years, ”says Zelenskyj in his latest video speech.
The Ukrainian president is also calling on leaders of France, Germany, Israel and other countries to help free Ivan Fedorov, who Kyiv says was kidnapped by invading Russian forces. Melitopol, a city in southern Ukraine halfway between Mariupol and Kherson, was captured by the Russian military on February 26.
“Tonight and today we are talking to our partners about the situation with our mayor. Our demand is clear: he must be released immediately… I have already phoned Chancellor Olaf Scholz. I spoke to (French) President Emmanuel Macron… I will speak to all the necessary people to release our people,” Zelenskyy said in a video released by the Ukrainian presidency.
“We appeal to all world leaders who speak to Moscow – France, Germany, Israel and others,” he says.
“We expect world leaders to show us how they can influence the situation,” Zelenskyy added.
According to the Ukrainian parliament, the mayor was arrested while dealing with supply problems at the city’s crisis center.
Zelenskyy says 2,000 Ukrainians demonstrated in Melitopol on Saturday against the Russian invasion and demanded the release of their mayor.
“Do you hear, Moscow? If 2,000 people demonstrate against the occupation in Melitopol, how many are there in Moscow against the war?” he says in his video.
Before the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, Melitopol had a population of just over 150,000.