A Communist Party legislative deputy in Russia’s far east has demanded an end to the war and withdrawal of Russian forces, breaking with the party line in a rare show of opposition to his country’s war in Ukraine.
“We understand that if our country doesn’t stop the military operation, we’ll have more orphans in our country,” Leonid Vasyukevich said at a meeting of the Primorsk regional Legislative Assembly in the Pacific port of Vladivostok on Friday.
His comments, which he addressed to President Vladimir Putin, were shown in a video posted on a Telegram channel emanating from the region. Another deputy followed to support Mr Vasyukevich’s views but the legislative assembly’s chairman issued a statement afterward calling the remarks a “political provocation” not supported by the majority of lawmakers.
Earlier this month, a Russian diplomat based in Geneva resigned, saying he was “ashamed” of the war. Russia has imposed severe penalties for publicly challenging the Kremlin’s narrative on the military operation in Ukraine.
It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke defiantly on Friday in two speeches about his country’s ultimate victory over Russian forces in both the most pressing battle in eastern Ukraine and the war, generally.
“Ukraine is a country that has destroyed the myth about the extraordinary power of the Russian army – an army that supposedly, in a few days, could conquer anyone it wants,” he told Stanford University students by video. “Now Russia is trying to occupy the entire state but we feel strong enough to think about the future of Ukraine, which will be open to the world.”
Later, in his nightly video address, Mr Zelensky reacted to Russians’ capture of the eastern city of Lyman, the Donetsk region’s large railway hub north of two more key cities still under Ukrainian control, and its attempt to encircle and seize the city of Sievierodonetsk, one of the last areas under Ukrainian control in Luhansk.
“If the occupiers think that Lyman or Sievierodonetsk will be theirs, they are wrong,” the Ukrainian president said.
“Donbas will be Ukrainian.”