By JARED GANS
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an address on Friday that Russia is virtually “dismantling the entire health care system” in the occupied parts of the country.
Zelensky told the Ukrainian people that Russian forces have closed medical institutions in cities, taken away equipment and ambulances and pressured doctors in those regions to move to Russia.
He said Russia is turning the province of Kherson, which Russia has captured, into a “zone without civilization” and without “elementary things” that are available in most of the world. He said life was “guaranteed” in Kherson before Russia invaded.
“And now Russia is trying to make the Kherson region literally an exclusion zone,” he said. “The world must react to this.”
Zelensky said the Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Ministry and the country’s representatives are informing international organizations and partners about this development.
He said he wanted to appeal to everyone remaining in the occupied territories to help their neighbors despite Russians’ actions.
“The Ukrainian flag will return. We will return to normal life. But you need to endure this time,” he said.
Zelensky said in an address on Wednesday that he expects “good news” in the near future as Ukraine pushes Russian forces back in the eastern and southern parts of the country. Russia has struggled to fend off a major Ukrainian counteroffensive that has been ongoing for almost two months and led to Ukraine retaking thousands of square kilometers of territory.
Ukrainian soldiers are pushing through the Russian line in Kherson, the Warsaw-based Centre for Eastern Studies reported earlier this week, but they are facing tough resistance in two key towns.
Russia oversaw internationally denounced annexation referendums last month in Kherson and three other regions it has captured, but it has been unable to maintain total control over the regions.
Zelensky also thanked the United States for its most recent military aid package of $275 million and Canada for directing the funds it receives from bond purchases toward Ukraine.