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Ukraine President may Not Be Alive In Next 48 Hours as he is Target Number One’ for Putin

In a video call with European Union leaders late Thursday, Mr. Zelensky drove home the personal stakes.

“This may be the last time you see me alive,” he told the leaders, according to two European officials familiar with his comments.

Russian disinformation campaigns have tried to sow the impression since Thursday that Mr. Zelensky had fled his capital city.

A person with the president said that he is in good spirits and determined to remain in Kyiv

The president is ready to die, but will stay,” the person said.

“The enemy has marked me as target number one, my family as target number two,” Mr. Zelensky told Ukrainians in a televised address in the small hours of Friday morning. “They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of the state.”

His voice echoed off the walls of a media-briefing room devoid of journalists because of increased security measures around him.

On Friday, Ukraine’s army was putting up a stern resistance to the Russian invasion, slowing its progress. Mr. Zelensky switched from a suit to a khaki T-shirt and delivered calm but firm speeches from behind a lectern at the presidential administration building in central Kyiv.

“We aren’t afraid of anything,” he said early Friday. “We aren’t afraid to defend our country. We aren’t afraid of Russia.”

Mr. Zelensky’s firmness is winning him praise even among former critics.

“President Volodymyr Zelensky has made many really bad mistakes, and I’m sure will make many more, but today he’s showing himself worthy of the nation he’s leading,” Olga Rudenko, chief editor of the Kyiv Independent news website, wrote on Twitter on Friday.


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