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UKRAINE: Zelensky says he believes ‘tens of thousands’ killed in Mariupol

UKRAINIAN President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that he believed “tens of thousands” of people in Mariupol had been killed, as he asked South Korean lawmakers to provide military assistance.

Speaking to South Korea’s National Assembly by video link, Zelensky said Russia had “completely destroyed” the besieged city of Mariupol.

“The Russians completely destroyed Mariupol and burned it to ashes. At least tens of thousands of Mariupol citizens must have been killed,” he said, speaking by video link to South Korean lawmakers.

“But for Russia, Mariupol is just an example. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve seen a lot of destruction like this in the 20th century.”

Zelensky said South Korea could help his country’s fight against Russia by providing military equipment from aeroplanes to tanks.

“If Ukraine receives such weapons, not only will they save the lives of ordinary people, but it will be a chance to save Ukraine,” he said.

South Korea has given Ukraine some one billion won ($800,000 USD) of non-lethal military equipment, such as bulletproof helmets and medical kit, Seoul’s defence ministry told AFP Monday.

But it turned down a recent Ukrainian request for anti-aircraft weaponry, saying that providing such weapons on the scale requested would impact South Korea’s own “military readiness posture”.

As a result of their own security situation, Seoul’s ability to provide “lethal weapons systems to Ukraine is restricted,” a defence ministry official told AFP.

The Korean War ended in a ceasefire and not a peace treaty, and the peninsula remains in a technical state of war.

Seoul is a close security ally of Washington, and the US stations around 28,500 troops in South Korea to help defend the country against the nuclear-armed North, which invaded in 1950.

Zelensky mentioned the Korean War during his address, saying that Ukraine should be given a similar level of international support as that which Seoul benefited from.

“South Koreans have endured a war in the 1950s and many civilians lost their lives,” he said.

“But South Korea prevailed. At the time, the international community provided a lot of help.”

South Korean lawmaker Park Hong-geun of the Democratic Party said that it was painful to watch Ukraine “suffering”.

“As the majority of the international community supports Ukraine, I believe peace will come,” he said.

“In the hope for peace, there is no ruling or opposition party in the National Assembly of South Korea. The National Assembly will work together for peace in Ukraine.”

A number of South Korean politicians, including the president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, made a number of gaffes over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

During the presidential campaign, Yoon deleted a “tone deaf” tweet on Ukraine which included a tangerine with an angry face on it — a bizarre reference to the country’s Orange Revolution.

His rival at the time, the liberal Lee Jae-myung, also faced criticism after claiming the Ukrainian president provoked Russia, which eventually led to war.

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Naija Times