Zelensky says humanitarian corridors ‘working’, more than 12,000 evacuees

Zelensky demands release of kidnapped mayor, says Russian military suffers ‘great losses’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian military was suffering “great losses” in its war against Ukraine and called for the urgent release of the mayor of Melitopol, who was reportedly kidnapped by Russian forces on Friday.

“The Russian troops suffer heavy losses. We could even now talk about the biggest blow to Russian troops in decades,” Zelensky said in his latest video speech.

Ukraine’s president also calls on the leaders of France, Germany, Israel and other countries to help secure the release of Ivan Fedorov, who Kiev says was kidnapped by invading Russian forces . Melitopol, a city in southern Ukraine halfway between Mariupol and Kherson, was captured by the Russian army on February 26.

“During the night and today, we are discussing with our partners the situation with our mayor. Our request is clear: he must be released immediately… I have already telephoned the (German) Chancellor Olaf Scholz. I spoke to (French) President Emmanuel Macron… I will speak to all the people necessary to free our people,” Zelensky said in a video released by the Ukrainian Presidency.

“We appeal to all world leaders who speak in Moscow – France, Germany, Israel and others,” he says.

“We expect world leaders to show us how they can influence the situation,” adds Zelensky.

According to the Ukrainian parliament, the mayor was arrested while he was at the city’s crisis center to deal with supply problems.

Zelensky says 2,000 Ukrainians demonstrated in Melitopol on Saturday against the Russian invasion and to demand the release of their mayor.

“Do you hear, Moscow? If 2,000 people demonstrate in Melitopol against the occupation, how many are there in Moscow against the war? he says in his video.

Before the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, Melitopol had a population of just over 150,000.

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