Ukrainian President Zelenskyy Says He Won't Accept American Offer for Evacuation: 'I Need Ammunition, Not a Ride'

·2 min read
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will not be intimidated.

The leader, 44, reportedly says he has turned down an offer from the United States to be evacuated from the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv amid Russia's invasion of his country.

"The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride," Zelenskyy told the U.S., according to a tweet from the Ukraine embassy in Britain early on Saturday morning.

The social media statement added: "Ukrainians are proud of their President💙💛."

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Zelenskyy himself addressed rumors that he had departed Ukraine in a video shared on his official Twitter account on Saturday morning.

"Do not believe the fakes," he captioned the 40-second clip. In the video, Zelenskyy says, according to a CNN translation, "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 continues. "That is it. That's all I wanted to tell you. Glory to Ukraine."

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Russia began its invasion of Ukraine earlier this week, according to the Ukraine government. The attack is still evolving, but explosions and airstrikes have been reported, with threats mounting against the capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression toward Ukraine has been widely condemned by the international community, including with economic sanctions and NATO troops massing in the region. Putin, 69, insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the interest of so-called "peacekeeping."

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Observers say much of Zelenskyy's political success can be attributed to the unrest and revolution of 2014, when popular protests brought down Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovich.

By 2019, the disenchantment with the country's political elite had become even further ingrained, helping propel a political outsider to the highest office.

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Zelenskyy — who ran with no party affiliation and no clear team of expert advisers until days before the election — attended no in-person campaign events and held no rallies, instead turning to social media to make a name for himself.

After appearing in a slew of YouTube and Instagram posts and making television appearances, the former comedian handily won a first-round election and later, a runoff.

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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