Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has rejected an offer from the US to evacuate him and his family, opting instead to remain in Kyiv while it is under attack from Russia.
Zelensky, a 44-year-old former comedian, has in recent days become an inspiration for Ukrainians and a symbol of the country’s courage in standing up for freedom and democracy in the face of aggression.
As Russian amped up its attacks, Zelensky said in an address on Friday morning that Russia had marked him as target number one and his family as target number two.
“They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state,” he said.
Despite the risks, he refused to back down and opted to remain in Ukraine with his family.
On Friday night, he shared a video of him, dressed in military green and flanked by his top advisors, outside the presidential building.
“We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are protecting Ukraine,” he said. “We are defending our independence, our state, and we will continue to do so.”
When the US offered to help him and his family to evacuate the country, he said, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”
On Saturday Feb. 26, he posted a video on Twitter of him walking around the streets of Kyiv, showing people that he was still in the city.
“There is a lot of fake information online that I call on our army to put down arms and there is an evacuation going on,” he said. “So here’s the thing. 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.