Zelensky urges release of abducted mayor, says Russian army suffers ‘great losses’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia’s military is suffering “great losses” in its war on Ukraine and called to urgently release the mayor of Melitopol, who was allegedly abducted Friday by Russian forces.

“The Russian troops are suffering great losses. We could even now talk about the greatest blow to the Russian troops in tens of years,” Zelensky says in his latest video address.

The Ukrainian president also calls on the leaders of France, Germany, Israel and other countries to help secure the release of Ivan Fedorov, who Kyiv says was abducted by invading Russian forces. Melitopol, a town in southern Ukraine halfway between Mariupol and Kherson, was captured by the Russian military on February 26.

“During the night and today we are talking to our partners about the situation with our mayor. Our demand is clear: he must be released immediately… I have already phoned (German) Chancellor Olaf Scholz. I have spoken to (French) President Emmanuel Macron… I will speak to all the necessary people to get our people released,” Zelensky says in a video released by the Ukrainian presidency.

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

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

According to the Ukrainian parliament, the mayor was arrested while at the city’s crisis center tackling supply issues.

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

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