Zelensky says Ukraine still holds key areas

Ukraine President Zelensky and Russia’s Putin

Ukraine still holds key areas of the country which Russian forces are trying to take, President Volodymyr Zelensky asserted, weeks into Russia’s sustained assault.

Ukrainian troops responded to every attack by Russian units, said Zelensky in a video message published on Telegram on Friday.

Zelensky said residents in cities like Mariupol in the south, Kharkiv in the east and Chernihiv in the north, which are besieged by Russian troops, would not be left in the lurch.

“From the army to the church, everyone was doing everything they can for the Ukrainian people.

“You will be free,” the president said.

He also thanked U.S. President, Joe Biden, for his new and effective help.

Zelensky promised entrepreneurs relief such as less red tape and interest-free loans during the armed conflict.

Meanwhile, there were indications that the bombed theatre in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol may have contained even more people than previously thought.

Serhiy Taruta, Ukrainian member of parliament, said at least 1,300 people may have been sheltering in the building when it was bombed on Wednesday.

Taruta said the claim was based on the accounts of people who had been inside and had since left Mairupol.

Until now, city authorities had assumed that around 1,000 people had sought protection there.

According to Olga Stefanishyna, Ukrainian parliamentarian, around 130 civilians were rescued from the theatre on Thursday.

The exact number of people killed and injured remains unclear, she said.

According to Ukrainian sources, the building was largely destroyed by a targeted Russian bombing on Wednesday.

Russia, in turn, blamed the Ukrainian nationalist Azov regiment for the heavy explosion. dpa