Ukraine Releases Prisoners With 'Combat Experience' To Help Fight Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he will be releasing prisoners who have "real combat experience" so they can assist with the war with Russia.

In an address on February 28, Zelensky told the people of Ukraine that everyone who can "join the struggle against the invaders must do so" and that the country is dedicating "every minute" to the conflict.

During the announcement, Zelensky confirmed that those with previous combat experience would be released from custody to help with the "struggle for our state."

"Ukrainians with real combat experience will be released from custody and will be able to compensate for their guilt in the hottest spots," Zelensky said.

"All sanctions against some individuals who participated in the Anti-Terrorist Operation will be lifted. The key thing now is defense."

Zelensky said the decision was difficult to make from a moral point of view but was vital "in terms of our protection."

"When I went to the presidency, I said that each of us is the president. Because we are all responsible for our country. For our beautiful Ukraine. And now it has happened that each of us is a warrior," he said.

"And I am sure that each of us will win."

Zelensky also called on Russian troops to stop the fighting, citing reports that more than 4,500 troops had already been killed during the Ukraine conflict.

"Abandon your equipment. Get out of here. Don't believe your commanders. Don't believe your propagandists. Just save your lives," he said.

Zelensky also urged the European Union to grant Ukraine immediate membership as the country continued its conflict with Russia.

"Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing," he said in the video address. "I'm sure it's fair. I'm sure it's possible."

The Ukrainian president said a "new special procedure" would allow the country to immediately join the EU, although it is unclear what this would be.

The comments followed a previous address from Zelensky on Saturday in which he again urged the EU to allow Ukraine to join.

"Residential buildings destroyed by missiles and artillery are the final argument for the world to stop this occupational invasion together with us," he said on Saturday.

"I say it as frankly as it can be, the Ukrainian people deserve and have the right to get membership of the European Union. This will be the main evidence of support for our country."

Follow our live blog for updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Volodymyr Zelensky prisoners
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the German chancellor (not pictured) give statements ahead of talks at the Chancellery on July 12, 2021, in Berlin, Germany. Zelensky said incarcerated people "with real combat experience" would be released from custody in order to join the war against Russia. Stefanie Loos-Pool/Getty Images