Kyiv, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on people worldwide to gather publicly on Thursday to show their support for his embattled country before addressing US President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders marking the month-long anniversary from had gathered in Brussels.
“Come to your squares, your streets. Make yourselves visible and audible,” Zelenskyy said late Wednesday in an emotional video address in English. “Say that people matter. Freedom is important. peace is important. Ukraine is important,” he demanded in the message, which was recorded in the dark near the presidential office in Kyiv.
In a video conference with NATO members, Zelenskyy demanded that the alliance provide Ukraine with “effective and full” support, including all the weapons the country needs to repel the Russian attack.
Mr. Biden arrived at NATO headquarters Thursday morning to discuss with fellow NATO leaders new sanctions on Russia and the coordination of such actions, as well as more military aid to Ukraine.
The president was later due to meet leaders of the G7 industrialized nations and then the European Council in a series of meetings on Thursday.
On the eve of a meeting with Mr. Biden, European Union nations signed another $550 million in military aid to Ukraine.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday as Mr Biden and other leaders arrived that Russian President Vladimir Putin made “a huge mistake, which is to start a war against an independent sovereign nation. He underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian people and the bravery of the Ukrainian people and their armed forces.”
Wednesday when the US found that Russian forces had committed war crimes and he said Washington and its NATO allies would work to hold them accountable.
“We have seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities,” Blinken said. “Russian forces have destroyed homes, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping malls and ambulances, killing or wounding thousands of innocent civilians. Many of the sites hit by Russian forces were clearly identifiable as in use civilians.”
Zelenskyy told the NATO summit on Thursday of yet another alleged Russian violation of martial law and claimed Putin’s forces had once again used banned weapons.
“By the way, phosphorus bombs were used this morning. Russian phosphorus bombs. Again adults were killed and again children,” said Zelenskyy, referring to destructive incendiary munitions, which are banned by the Geneva Convention, to which Russia, like virtually all other major nations, is a member signer.
Russia’s military still underperforms
As Russia unleashed its invasion in Europe’s largest military offensive since World War II, a swift overthrow of the Ukrainian government seemed possible. But a month after the fighting,of wear and tear.
In its latest update on March 2, Russia said nearly 500 soldiers had been killed and nearly 1,600 injured. However, NATO estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers were killed; The latter figure is roughly equivalent to what Russia lost in a decade of fighting.
A senior NATO military official said the alliance’s estimate was based on information from Ukrainian authorities, what Russia — intentionally or not — released and information from open sources. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with ground rules established by NATO.
Ukraine also claims to have killed six Russian generals. Russia only recognizes a dead general.
The Ukrainian Navy announced on Thursday that it had sunk the Russian ship Orsk in the Sea of Azov near the port city of Berdyansk. It released photos and videos of the fire and thick smoke from the port area. Russia did not immediately comment on the allegation.
Russia has held the port since Feb. 27, and the Orsk had landed armored vehicles there Monday for use in Moscow’s offensive, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Zvezda TV channel said earlier this week. According to the report, the Orsk was the first Russian warship to call at Berdyansk, which is some 50 miles west along the Berdyansk coast.
President Biden warned earlier this week that there was one with Putin’s back “against the wall.”Unleashing chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.
Ukraine has released little information about its own military losses and the West has not provided an estimate, but Zelenskyy said nearly two weeks ago that around 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed.
While his ground forces are being slowed or stopped by Ukrainian units armed with Western-supplied weapons, Putin’s troops are bombing targets from afar, resorting to the tactics they used to reduce cities to rubbleand Chechnya.
A senior US defense official said on Wednesday that Russian ground forces appear to be digging in and setting up defensive positions 9 to 12 miles outside of the capital Kyiv, as they are making little to no progress toward the city center. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military assessments, said it appeared that forces were no longer attempting to advance into the city and in some areas east of Kyiv Ukrainian troops had pushed Russian soldiers further afield.
Instead, Russian troops appear to be prioritizing fighting in the eastern Donbass regions of Luhansk and Donetsk to cut off Ukrainian troops and prevent them from moving west to defend other cities, the official said.
Moscow raises another nuclear specter
Despite evidence to the contrary, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted the military operation was proceeding “strictly according” to plans.
In an ominous sign that Moscow may be considering using nuclear weapons, senior Russian official Dmitry Rogozin said the country’s nuclear arsenal would help deter the West from intervening in Ukraine.
“The Russian Federation is capable of physically destroying any attacker or attacking group within minutes and from any distance,” said Rogozin, who heads state-owned aerospace conglomerate Roskosmos and oversees missile-building facilities. In his televised speeches, he noted that Moscow’s nuclear stockpile includes tactical nuclear weapons intended for use on the battlefield, along with far more powerful nuclear-tipped ICBMs.
US officials have long warned that Russia’s military doctrine provides for an “escalation to de-escalation” option, in which the nuclear-armed enemy on the battlefield is forced to retreat when Russian forces are on the brink of defeat. Moscow has denied having any such plans.
Rogozin, known for his bluster, did not make clear what Western actions would be considered interference, but his comments almost certainly reflect thoughts inside the Kremlin. Putin has warned the West that trying to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would draw him into a conflict with Russia. Western nations have said they will not create a no-fly zone to protect Ukraine.
In his national address, Zelenskyy noted that Ukraine had not received the requested warplanes or modern air defense systems. He said Ukraine also needs tanks and anti-ship systems.
“It’s been a month of defending ourselves against attempts to destroy us, to wipe us off the face of the earth,” he said.