Zelenskiy works the phone to rally support against Russia, thanks allies

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks on the phone with European Council President Charles Michel in the Donetsk region, Ukraine February 17, 2022.

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called a number of foreign leaders on Wednesday as Moscow looked poised to annex a swath of Ukrainian territory and later thanked them for their support.

Zelenskiy spoke to the leaders of countries including Britain, Canada, Germany and Turkey to press demands for more military aid and tougher sanctions on Moscow after what Kyiv and the West denounced as illegal sham referendums in four partially occupied provinces on Ukraine.

“Thank you all for your clear and unequivocal support. Thank you all for understanding our position,” Zelenskiy said in a late-night video address.

“Ukraine cannot and will not tolerate any attempts by Russia to seize any part of our land.”

The United States said it was working with allies and partners to impose severe economic costs on Moscow, and the European Union’s executive proposed new sanctions.

After speaking to British Prime Minister Liz Truss, Zelenskiy tweeted that “defense and financial aid to Ukraine must be enhanced in response.”

In another call, Zelenskiy won a promise from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Berlin’s financial, political and humanitarian support for Ukraine would not waver.

Scholz also said Germany would continue to back Ukraine in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity, including weapons deliveries, a German government spokesperson said.