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Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelensky calls for global protests to reject Russian war

A protester holds up a photo of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky outside the Russian Embassy in Washington on Tuesday. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

March 24 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for worldwide protests on Thursday that condemn Russia for its invasion into Ukraine, and for killing civilians and children over the past month.

In a speech while standing in front of a government building in the capital Kyiv, Zelensky said that pressure from ordinary citizens around the world is the best way to halt Moscow's military advances in his country.

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The Ukrainian leader urged people in all countries to demonstrate their opposition to the Russian war on Thursday

"Make yourself visible and heard," Zelensky said in his address, according to The Washington Post. "Say that people matter, freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters."

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Over the past month, Zelensky has shown that he's a skilled orator in rallying supporters to the Ukrainian cause. He's also spoken to several governments and parliaments, including a rare foreign address to a joint session of U.S. Congress.

Zelensky asked for the global protests "in the name of peace" in his speech late on Wednesday -- which came before three major summits on Thursday involving NATO, the European Council and Group of Seven nations.

Zelensky's appeal for dissent came just hours before a NATO summit that invited a number of leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, pictured here speaking with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday. Photo by NATO/UPI
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"Our firm position will be represented at these three summits. At these three summits we will see: Who is a friend, who is a partner, and who betrayed us for money," he said, according to The Guardian.

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"The world must stop the war. Come from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities, come in the name of peace, come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to support freedom, to support life."

Zelensky remotely addressed the NATO summit, which was the first of the three meetings on Thursday.

The Ukrainian leader asked in his remarks that NATO permit "effective and unrestricted" support for Ukraine to repel Russian forces, including weapons if necessary. NATO has said that it will increase troop numbers along its eastern flank in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

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Russia had has mixed success since its invasion on Feb. 24. NATO estimates that 15,000 Russian troops have been killed so far -- which is about the same toll that Moscow suffered over the entire 1980s during its 10-year war in Afghanistan. Zelensky has said previously that at least 1,300 Ukrainian troops have died, a number that most analysts believe is likely far greater.

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Zelensky's call for activism came as U.S. President Joe Biden announced a package of new sanctions and economic punishments for Moscow for starting the war in Ukraine.

Scenes from the rubble: Russian forces attack Ukraine capital, Kyiv

Ukrainian service members stand beside a damaged building in a residential area after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo

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