Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday posted a video on social media vowing alongside other government officials to defend Kyiv against the Russian invasion. The self-shot video from central Kyiv was aimed at quelling the rumours of him fleeing Ukraine amid Russian aggression.
“We’re all here. Our military is here. Citizens in society are here. We’re all here defending our independence, our country, and it will stay this way,” Zelensky said, standing with his prime minister, chief of staff and other senior aides outside the presidency building.
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As the US-led West prepared to vote on the resolution calling on Moscow to withdraw from Ukraine, Zelenskiy said he discussed strengthening sanctions, concrete defence assistance and an anti-war coalition with President Joe Biden. While the resolution was vetoed by Moscow, America announced sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and several key aides as his troops pushed towards Kyiv.
“President Putin and Minister Lavrov are directly responsible for Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful further invasion of Ukraine,” the US treasury department said in a statement.
“President Putin joins a very small group that includes despots such as Kim Jong Un, Alexander Lukashenko, and Bashar al-Assad,” the department added, referring to the leaders of North Korea, Syria and Belarus.
The European Union also decided to freeze the assets of Putin and Lavrov and agreed on a further package of individual and economic restrictive measures covering finance, energy, transport, technology, and visa policy.
“This decision swiftly implements the European Council conclusions of 24 February and shows the unity and resolve of the European Union, together with international partners and allies, to defend the peace order and the international law,” the EU Council said.
Welcoming the EU sanctions, US state secretary Antony Blinken said “[t]ogether with our allies and partners, we are holding Putin to account for his flagrant violation of international law.”