Kyiv: (Daily Mail): Volodmyr Zelensky has declared a marine who blew himself up along with a bridge near Crimea to repel advancing Russian forces a Hero of Ukraine.
According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Vitaly Shakun was manning the Henichesk bridge in the Kherson region when Kremlin troops advanced and the battalion decided the only way to stop them was to blow up the bridge.
It was mined, and Shakun had no time to get out. He texted them and told them he was going to blow up the bridge. Seconds later, they heard an explosion, a post on their Facebook page said. Shakun’s efforts dramatically slowed down the Russian advance and allowed his comrades to regroup and re-deploy, the Ukrainian General Staff added.
Zelensky has now made Shakun a Hero of Ukraine, the highest national title that can be conferred upon an individual citizen by the country’s president.
In an emotional speech to the besieged nation uploaded to Facebook, the Ukrainian President also accused Moscow of attempting to seize Kyiv, overthrow the government and install a ‘puppet’ regime ‘like in Donetsk’, one of two separatist regions which warmonger Vladimir Putin officially recognised before launching an all-out invasion.
Declaring ‘we derailed their idea’, Zelensky added: ‘The fights are going on in many cities and areas of our state. But we know that we are protecting the country, the land, the future of our children. Kyiv and key cities around the capital are controlled by our army.
‘The [Russian] occupants wanted to block the centre of our state and put here their marionette, like in Donetsk. We derailed their idea.’
Zelensky pushed for Ukraine’s urgent ascension to the European Union, saying he discussed the issue with the EU leaders. He also urged cutting Russia from the SWIFT international electronic bank payment system, noting that Germany and Hungary should show ‘courage’ and agree to the move.
Briefly switching to Russian, he claimed that thousands of Kremlin troops were killed and hundreds of those who were taken prisoner ‘can’t understand why they were sent into Ukraine to kill and get killed’.
Thanking Russians who spoke out against the war and asked them to keep up the pressure on the Kremlin, he said: ‘The sooner you say to your government that this war should be immediately stopped, the more of your people will stay alive.’
After Ukrainian forces said they had fought off a Russian attack on their capital Saturday, Zelensky shot a selfie-style video outside his office to vow to stay and fight on. He also denounced as disinformation allegations that he had surrendered or fled.
Wearing olive green military-style clothing and looking tired but determined, he added: ‘A lot of fake information has appeared on the internet saying that I allegedly called on our army to lay down its arms and that evacuation is underway. Our truth is that this is our land, our country, our children and we will protect all of this. This is what I wanted to tell you. Glory to Ukraine!’.
As the video hit social media platforms, the sounds of explosions and air raid sirens could still be heard around the capital, as the Russian military said it had fired cruise missiles at Ukrainian military targets.