Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy turned down an American offer early Saturday to be evacuated from the capital city, Kyiv, which is under attack by Russia.
“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” Zelenskyy said, according to the Ukrainian Embassy in the U.K.
Russian troops continued to press into Ukraine’s capital on the third day of the invasion, with Ukraine reporting 198 people killed and more than 1,000 injured. Residents of Kyiv took shelter after a night of explosions and street fighting on the city’s outskirts.
An apartment building was hit by a missile strike Saturday morning. There were no reported deaths, according to the Kyiv Independent.
Zelenskyy appears determined not to leave the city, though he acknowledged he is a target for the advancing Russian forces. “This might be the last time you see me alive,” he reportedly told European Union leaders on a conference call Thursday night.
The U.S. concurs that Zelenskyy is a prime target for Russian forces. Zelenskyy “does, in many ways, represent ― even personify ― the democratic aspirations and ambitions of Ukraine ― of the Ukrainian people,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Thursday evening.
The Ukrainian president tweeted a 40-second video on Saturday morning from his phone, seeking to reassure people that he was still in Kyiv.
“I am here. We are not putting down arms. We will be defending our country, because our weapon is truth, and our truth is that this is our land, our country, our children, and we will defend all of this,” he said, according to a translation by CNN.
“That is it. That’s all I wanted to tell you. Glory to Ukraine,” he added.
Another video, posted Friday night, showed Zelenskyy surrounded by other political leaders on a city block lit by streetlights. “Our troops are here, citizens are here,” he said, according to a translation by The Telegraph.
Zelenskyy has maintained an active social media presence during the Russian attacks, tweeting about his contacts with world leaders and advocating for his desired outcomes. On Saturday morning, he urged that Ukraine become part of the EU. He also pushed for countries to exclude Russia from the global financial messaging system SWIFT, which links the world’s banks and allows cross-border financial payments to function.
The U.S. on Friday said it would impose financial sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin ― a move that would probably be largely symbolic, since Putin holds much of his wealth outside Western nations.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. is still considering cutting Russia out of SWIFT.