Ukraine: Woman appears to confront Russian soldier
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Putin launched a premeditated full-military assault on Ukraine by land, air and sea. NATO condemned the move as a “brutal act of war” and G7 leaders called it a “serious threat to international order”. Ukraine has just 361,000 troops to Russia’s 900,000, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed his nation will defend itself and promised to arm every Ukrainian willing to fight.
Xena was born and raised in Crimea before leaving for western Ukraine due to Russian aggression in 2014.
Reflecting on the Russian invasion, she told Express.co.uk: “There was some panic and confusion at first, especially among those who were woken up by the Russian airstrikes – the Russian army immediately started repeated shellings and bombings of our cities right after Putin finished with his speech.
“But now it is the determination, readiness to fight. Lots of anger, too. We are getting angrier with every life that we lose and with every new atrocity committed on our land.”
But Xena, along with millions of other Ukrainians, believe Putin will ultimately fail.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an attack by night on neighbouring Ukraine
Despite having many more servicemen, preliminary reports suggest Russian losses have been far greater than those seen on the Ukrainian side.
Russian forces have lost about 2,800 servicemen and 80 tanks during their assault on Ukraine, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said on Friday.
They have also lost 80 tanks, 516 armoured vehicles, 10 airplanes and seven helicopters, according to new totals released by Kyiv’s Defence Ministry.
Meanwhile, the US Defence department released a statement saying it believed Russian troops were already losing momentum after failing to capture key strategic targets.
Xena said: “[Russia] has failed its initial goals already. The blitzkrieg attempt has failed; they are faced with the most furious resistance.
“At this very moment, there are teenagers in Kyiv picking up Molotov cocktails and getting ready to fight the enemy.
“The Ukrainian army is exceptional and can hold the ground for as long as it takes.
“But we need to feel support from the world, it is impossible to stand against the Russian aggression knowing that they are still connected to the Western markets, that their oil, the same one that fuels their military machines, is being sold around the world with no restrictions.”
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A convoy of Russian military vehicles moving towards Ukraine
Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces participate in firearm drills
She warned Putin’s invasion is not only an attack on Ukraine but also an attack on the rest of Europe – “the rotten West”, as Putin’s propaganda calls it.
Ukrainian politicians and media continue to argue Putin’s troops will knock on the EU’s door unless they are stopped now – and stopped for good.
On Thursday, the international community responded to the invasion with sweeping financial sanctions, but many believe these do not go far enough.
Asked what support Ukrainians are seeking from the West, Xena responded: “If Russia is cut off from SWIFT (international payment system), it will be half of the job. People here don’t understand where our allies are and where the hellish sanctions on Russia that we were promised are.
“Lots of people can’t believe that Russia isn’t cut off from SWIFT yet. How can you continue economic relations with a modern-day Hitler?”
Downing Street confirmed Prime Minister Boris Johnson would raise the prospect of banning Russia from the SWIFT international payment system in a meeting with NATO allies, amid reports some European nations are reluctant to take the step.
Number 10 said “nothing is off the table” in support of Ukraine.
Xena continued: “The other half is sheltering our skies: it is possible for NATO to shield us from the Russian aircraft without a single NATO soldier getting involved.
“The Ukrainian army is saying: shelter our skies, and we will do the rest.
Ukrainian Military Forces servicemen block a road in the government quarter in Kyiv
The Ukrainian government vowed to arm any Ukrainian willing to fight
“Our soldiers have been dying fighting against the Russian aggression for the last 8 years.
“We do not expect anyone to fight for us, but rather the world to stand with us.”
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace previously ruled out sending UK troops to actively fight in Ukraine – an ally of the UK but not a member of the NATO military alliance – because he says it would trigger a full-blown European war.
He said the UK had “done the next best thing, which is to train more than 20,000 Ukrainians, providing them with lethal capabilities, which they are using right now”.
The international community – including the EU, NATO and G7 – say they are continuing to assess sanctions for Russia and ways to support Ukraine.
The Russian army has not yet reached western Ukraine but residents believe it is only a matter of time.
Military drills are being carried out and civilians can be seen calmly waiting in long lines in front of grocery shops to gather supplies.
Neighbours are going door to door checking on each other and huge queues of people are enrolling in the army.
Xena said: “We are not fleeing, we are fighting, and we need you more than ever. Cut them off from SWIFT. Shelter our skies. Stand with Ukraine.”
To donate to the Ukrainian army, visit: savelife.in.ua/en/donate