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Zelensky warns 'we will not forgive' amid increased Russian shelling of cities

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Zelensky warns 'we will not forgive' amid increased Russian shelling of cities
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy chastised democratic leaders for not heeding his warning that the city of Odessa is to be shelled on Thursday.  Photo courtesy of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/Facebook

March 6 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russian troops amid an increase in the shelling of cities that those involved in the invasion of their country will be hunted down and held accountable.

"We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war. On our land. We will find every bastard," he said in an impassioned speech late Sunday. "There will be no quiet place on this earth for you. Except for the grave."

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Zelensky's speech comes amid increased shelling nationwide and Ukrainians attempting to flee to neighboring countries.

According to Britain's Ministry of Defense, in the past 24 hours "a high level of Russian air and artillery strikes" targeting military and civilian sites in the cities of Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Chernihiv have been observed.

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Shelling was "particularly heavy" in Mariupol, it said, as officials were attempting to evacuate civilians.

Since Russia began its invasion about a week and a half ago, more than 1.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country, 364 civilians have been killed and another 759 have been injured, according to United Nations data.

Humanitarian corridors to allow Ukrainians to safely leave the country were supposed to have been established following a meeting between Kyiv and Moscow on Thursday, but Zelensky said Sunday night there are no such corridors as scheduled evacuations from the city of Mariupol were called off for a second time due to Russian attacks.

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"We heard the promise that there would be humanitarian corridors," he said. "But there there are no humanitarian corridors. Instead of humanitarian corridors, they can only make bloody ones."

He said a family of four -- a man, a woman and two children -- were killed in Irpin by Russian shelling as they were attempting to leave the city.

"The whole family," he said. "How many such families have died in Ukraine!"

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Cities nationwide have been shelled with Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov stating earlier in the day that they would conduct "surgical strikes" on the military complex district in Odessa, which borders the Black Sea.

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Zelensky had warned the international community that Odessa would be hit on Monday despite international condemnation of Russia's invasion and subsequent sanctions imposed against Moscow.

In his speech Sunday night, the president derided the politicians for their quiet response to his warning, stating their lack of reaction imbues Russia with a sense of impunity.

"Thousands of people work there. Hundreds of thousands live nearby. This is murder. Deliberate murder," he said. "And I have not heard a reaction from any world leader today. From any Western politician.

"Not a word, as if Western leaders have dissolved tonight. For this day. I hope that at least you Tomorrow you will notice it. React. Say something."

Nations have been aiding Ukraine with weapons and humanitarian assistance and sanctions against Russia, but Zelensky has repeatedly said it's not enough, and rebuked NATO as "weak" late last week for not instituting a no-fly zone over the country.

Zelensky reiterated his demand for a no-fly zone earlier Sunday after Vinnytsia in western Ukraine was hit with eight missiles, destroying its airport.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that imposing a no-fly zone over the country would be tantamount to a declaration of war.

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