Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that approximately 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed by Russian forces in what he is calling a “war of annihilation,” according to the New York Times.
Driving the news: Russian forces are intensifying their campaign of aggression against Ukraine, including in Kyiv, where forces have edged to within 25 kilometers of the city center.
- Zelensky also said that Russian forces will have to destroy Kyiv to take control of the capital city.
- “If there are hundreds of thousands of people, who are now being mobilized by Russia, and they come with hundreds or thousands of tanks, they will take Kyiv. We understand that,” he said.
- “How Ukrainian people have resisted these invaders has already gone down in history,” Zelensky said in a recent address. “But we have no right to reduce the intensity of defense, no matter how difficult it may be for us.”
- Zelensky also proposed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Israel, adding that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett can act as an intermediary.
State of play: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday urged Putin to call an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine during a 75-minute call with the Russian leader, CNN reports.
- The leaders also urged Putin to “move toward a diplomatic solution to the conflict,” according to German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit.
- Scholz and Macron’s call with Putin was part of ongoing international efforts to end the war in Ukraine, per CNN.
The big picture: Hundreds of protesters in Melitopol in southern Ukraine took to the streets on Saturday to protest the detention of the city’s mayor on Friday by Russian forces, CNN reports.
- Zelensky warned of “a new stage of terror” on Friday, referencing the abduction of the mayor of Melitopol by Russian forces.
Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.