‘These are not warriors of a superpower, these are confused, scared children’: President Zelensky says morale of Russian troops is ‘constantly deteriorating’ as soldier breaks down in tears when locals give him tea and call his mother after he surrenders

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last night claimed the morale of Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces is ‘constantly deteriorating’ in a powerful address, and added that his forces have so-far killed 9,000 invaders.

The leader of the besieged nation also said that his country had thwarted Russia’s ‘sneaky’ plans, saying he was proud of the ‘heroic’ resistance to Moscow’s shocking invasion.

‘We are a nation that broke the enemy’s plans in a week. Plans written for years: sneaky, full of hatred for our country, our people,’ Zelensky said in a video posted across multiple social media channels.

The president said he ‘sincerely admired the heroic residents’ of cities who have resisted the advance of Russian forces. He added that around 9,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the invasion began, a claim disputed by Moscow who released contesting figures for the first time earlier on Wednesday.

‘Our military, our border guards, our territorial defense, even ordinary farmers capture the Russian military every day,’ he said in the video, similar to several others he has previously recorded during the war.

‘All the captives say only one thing: they do not know why they are here. Despite the fact that there are dozens of times more than them, the morale of the enemy is constantly deteriorating.’

Zelensky, who has drawn praise from Ukrainians and the international community alike for his leadership since the invasion began, also accused Russian troops of looting out of desperation for food and supplies.

He said Ukrainian civilians had driven Putin’s soldiers out of grocery stores as they searched for food. ‘These are not warriors of the superpower, these are confused children who were used,’ he said.

‘They will not have peace here, they will not have food here, they will not have a single quiet moment here,’ he warned. ‘The occupiers will receive only one thing from Ukraine – a rebuff, a worth rebuff. They will remember that we do not give up.’

Zelensky’s comments were posted before Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and many other cities around the country came under heavy fire from Putin’s forces. Videos in Kyiv showed at least two huge explosions light up the night sky at around 2 am local time, while Kherson city in the south was reportedly brought under Russia’s complete control.

Meanwhile, the command of Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces warned that it would no longer take Russian artillerymen as prisoners of war in response to their ‘brutal shelling’ of cities. ‘Each and every gun crew… will be slaughtered like pigs,’ a statement on Wednesday evening said.

The United Nations Refugee Agency reported Thursday morning that over 1 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the war, which has so far claimed thousands of lives in its first week. Pictures and videos from Kyiv have shown thousands crowding railways stations in a desperate bid to get a ride out of the city.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said Wednesday more than 2,000 civilians have died, though it was impossible to verify that claim. There are fears that the number could be higher. Earlier on Wednesday, a video of a Russian soldier breaking down in tears as he spoke to his mother on the phone after surrendering to Ukrainians went viral.

The footage showed a young fighter from Putin’s forces being comforted by a group of women after throwing down his weapon. One of the women tells him ‘everything is OK’ while patting him on the back.

He is then seen drinking tea and eating a pasty as another woman offers him a phone. The young prisoner of war blows kisses as his mother answers and bursts into tears as soon as he sees her. One of the other women is heard speaking to her down the phone, saying: ‘Natasha, God be with you. We will call you later. He is alive and healthy.’

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