By John Ikani
Ukrainian prisoners with combat experience will be released from jail and allowed to serve their debt to society on the front lines of the conflict with Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Monday.
Ukraine’s leader, who has gained plaudits from around the globe for his response to Russian aggression, said inmates will be able to ‘compensate for their guilt in the hottest spots’, in a presidential video address this morning, Daily Mail reports.
“Under martial law, Ukrainians with real combat experience will be released from custody and will be able to compensate for their guilt in the hottest spots of the conflict,” Zelensky said.
“We have taken a decision which is not easy from the moral point of view, but which is useful from the point of view of our defences.
“The key is now defence.”
Zelensky also made an appeal to the European Union to grant his country ‘immediate’ membership as part of a special procedure in the face of the Russian assault.
The Ukrainian leader – a former comedian who came to power in 2019 – released his latest video statement as Russian and Ukrainian negotiators prepared to sit down for their first face-to-face talks since Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered troops to invade last Thursday.
“We appeal to the European Union for the immediate accession of Ukraine via a new special procedure,” the 44-year-old leader said in a new video address.
“Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing. I’m sure it’s fair. I’m sure it’s possible.”
He said 16 children had died during the first four days of Moscow’s assault and another 45 were wounded as he hailed ‘Ukrainian heroes.’
The UN’s Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday that at least 102 civilians, including seven children, had been killed but warned the real numbers were probably far higher.
“Ukrainians have shown the world who we are. And Russia has shown what it has become,” Zelensky said.