Volodymyr Zelensky Tells Russian Troops To Surrender: 'Why Should You Die?'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made a direct appeal to Russian soldiers to surrender, telling them, "I know that you want to survive."

Zelensky used a televised address on Monday from his office to update Ukrainians on the state of their resistance to the Russian invasion and to call on Moscow-backed troops to give up their arms.

He told Ukrainians that Kyiv's forces were "approaching victory," and painted a picture of Russian forces in disarray, as he described how they were "confused" and had not expected such a tough fight.

Zelensky then switched from Ukrainian into Russian to make a plea to Russian soldiers on the 19th day of the war ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

"I want to tell the Russian soldiers, those who have already entered our land and who are just about to be sent to fight against us." he said. "You will not take anything from Ukraine."

"You will take lives. There are a lot of you. But your life will also be taken. But why should you die? What for? I know that you want to survive," Zelensky said.

He detailed how Kyiv knew morale among Russian troops was low, through its intercepts.

"We hear what you really think about this senseless war and about this disgrace and about your state," Zelensky said.

A number of captured Russian personnel have appeared on camera describing how they were duped over the true nature of the campaign in Ukraine.

Last week, a pilot captured by Ukrainian forces on March 6, spoke of how he had been ordered to fire on an apartment block despite Moscow's claims there were no civilian targets. Maxim Krishtop told a press conference "I want to ask forgiveness from the entire Ukrainian people."

Other anecdotes and video have appeared showing Russian soldiers tearfully regretting their presence in the conflict, with one describing how he and and his comrades were "cannon fodder."

Sensing that Russian troops could turn against their superiors, Zelensky said: "I offer a choice. I give you a chance, a chance to survive. If you surrender to our forces, we will treat you the way people are supposed to be treated…in a way that you were not treated in your army."

"Choose," he said, before switching to Ukrainian again and going on to describe losses among Russian forces, which he said included 80 warplanes, "hundreds of tanks and thousands of other units."

Then switching back into Russian, Zelensky said he was "grateful to those Russians who do not stop trying to convey the truth."

He paid tribute to Marina Ovsyannikova, an employee of Russia's Channel One, who stormed a set to hold up a placard with an anti-war message, as well as those who "are not afraid to protest."

"As long as your country has not completely closed itself from the whole world, turning into a very large North Korea, you must fight," Zelensky said. "You must not lose your chance."
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference in Kyiv on March 3, 2022. He has made a direct appeal to Russian soldiers to surrender. SERGEI SUPINSKY/Getty Images