Zelenskyy warns citizens against giving personal info to Russians as Moscow looks to extend campaign southwest

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday warned residents in regions to the south and west of Donetsk against providing personal information to Russian soldiers.

“I urge the residents of the southern regions of Ukraine – Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions – to be very careful about what information you provide to the invaders,” he said in an address.  “If they ask you to fill out some questionnaires…you should know this is not to help you.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

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Zelesnkyy said Russian troops may be collecting passport data under the guise of completing a “census” of residents in the areas to deliver humanitarian aid.

“This is aimed to falsify the so-called referendum on your land – if an order comes from Moscow to stage such a show,” he added. “This is the reality. Be careful.”

Zelenskyy’s warning came just hours after Russian General Minnekaev told Russian news agencies that Moscow’s aim was to establish “full control” of not only the eastern Donbas area, but southern regions that run along the Black Sea.

An armed serviceman of Donetsk People's Republic militia patrols a street in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. Mariupol, a strategic port on the Sea of Azov, has been besieged by Russian troops and forces from self-proclaimed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine for more than six weeks. 

An armed serviceman of Donetsk People’s Republic militia patrols a street in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, April 15, 2022. Mariupol, a strategic port on the Sea of Azov, has been besieged by Russian troops and forces from self-proclaimed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine for more than six weeks. 
(AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)

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Zaporizhzhia, which sits directly west of Donetsk above the Sea of Azov, has become a destination for evacuees fleeing the port city of Mariupol in Donetsk.

Kherson, southwest of Zaporizhzhia, lays directly above the Russia-occupied Crimean peninsula.

Minnekaev said Russia’s goal was not only to create a land bridge between the Donbas and occupied-Crimea, but to gain superiority over all Black Sea ports – extending its coastal access outside the Sea of Azov.

Zelenskyy warned that attempts to annex additional regions in Ukraine will not be tolerated and threatened additional financial repercussions.  

This map made March 2, 2022, shows Russian-controlled areas in southern Ukraine.

This map made March 2, 2022, shows Russian-controlled areas in southern Ukraine.
(Fox News)

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“I want to say straight away: any ‘Kherson People’s Republics’ are not going to fly. If someone wants a new annexation, it can only lead to new powerful sanctions strikes on Russia,” he said.

“You will make your country as poor as Russia hasn’t been since the 1917 civil war. So it is better to seek peace now,” Zelenskyy added.