Ukraine crisis: President Zelenskyy says West needs more courage in helping Ukrainians fight

LVIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has blamed the West for a lack of courage as his country struggles to prevent a Russian invasion, calling on fighter jets and tanks to maintain their defenses in a conflict that has led to conflict. .

Speaking after US President Joe Biden’s meeting with senior Ukrainian officials in Poland on Saturday, Zelensky criticized “Western ping-pong over who and how should hand over jets and other defensive weapons” to Russia, while Russian missile strikes kill and trap civilians.

“I spoke to the defenders of Mariupol today. I am in constant contact with them. Their determination, heroism and stability are astonishing,” Zelensky said in a video early Sunday, referring to the besieged southern city that has suffered some of the worst. deprivations and horrors of war. “If those who thought for 31 days how to deliver dozens of jets and tanks had 1% of their courage.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its 32nd day, has halted in many areas, with the aim of quickly encircling the capital, Kyiv, and forcing its surrender by faltering in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance – reinforced by US and US weapons. other western allies.

However, Western military assistance so far does not include fighter jets. A proposal to transfer Polish planes to Ukraine via the United States has been canceled amid NATO concerns about involvement in a military conflict with Russia.

“So who is responsible for the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it still Moscow, thanks to its terror tactics?” Zelensky exclaimed as he made his sharp remarks. “Our partners must step up their assistance to Ukraine.”

The British Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that the battlefield in northern Ukraine remains largely static as local Ukrainian counterattacks hinder Russian efforts to reorganize their forces. He said Russian forces appeared to be trying to encircle Ukrainian forces directly facing separatist areas in the east of the country.

Moscow has said it is focusing on removing the entire eastern Donbass region of Ukraine from Ukrainian control. The area has been partly controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. A senior Russian military official said on Friday that troops were being redirected eastward from other parts of the country.

Despite these allegations, Russian missiles hit the western city of Lviv on Saturday, while Biden visited neighboring Poland, recalling that Moscow is ready to strike anywhere in Ukraine.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Sunday that he had used air-launched cruise missiles to hit a fuel depot and a defense plant in Liyev. Konashenkov said another rocket-propelled grenade fired from the sea destroyed a missile depot in Plesetsk, just west of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

The strikes came as Biden wrapped up a visit to Poland, where he met with Ukraine’s foreign and defense ministers, visited US troops and saw refugees from the war. Before leaving, he expressed a strong and highly personal condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying: “For God’s sake, this man can not remain in power.”

The White House was quick to point out that Biden was not calling for an immediate change of government in Moscow. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peshkov denounced the remarks, saying “it is not up to the US president and the Americans to decide who will remain in power in Russia.”

Early Sunday, a chemical stench was still in the air as firefighters in Lviv, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) from the Polish border, sprayed water on a burned-out section of an oil rig hit by the Russian attack.

A security guard at the scene, Yaroslav Prokopiv, said he saw three rockets hit and destroy two oil tanks, but no one was injured.

“The third blow threw me to the ground,” he said.

Repeated airstrikes by Russia have shaken the city, which has become a haven for some 200,000 people who have fled the bombed-out cities. Lviv has also been home to more than 3.8 million refugees fleeing Ukraine since Russia’s first invasion on February 24.

The city was largely saved from the onset of the invasion, although rockets hit an aircraft repair facility near the main airport a week ago.

In the dim, bomb-filled shelter under a block of flats a short distance from the site of the first explosion, Olana Ukrainets, a 34-year-old IT professional, said she could not believe she had to hide again after leaving the northeastern city of Kharkiv. one of the most bombed cities of the war.

“We were on one side of the road and we saw it on the other side,” he said. “We saw a fire. I said to my friend, ‘What is this?’ Then we heard the sound of an explosion and the breaking of glass. We tried to hide among buildings. I do not know what the target was.”

In a video speech, Zelensky angrily warned Moscow that it was sowing deep hatred for Russia in the Ukrainian people as continuous artillery barricades and airstrikes reduced cities to ruins, killed civilians, and forced others to flee. for food. and water to survive.

“Do everything possible for our people to abandon the Russian language, because the Russian language will now be associated only with you, with your explosions and murders, with your crimes,” Zelensky said.

A nuclear research facility in Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city near the Russian border, came under fire again on Saturday. Ukraine’s nuclear guard said that due to the ongoing hostilities it was impossible to estimate the extent of the damage.

Kharkiv has been under siege by Russian forces since the beginning of the invasion and has been repeatedly bombed, damaging residential buildings and critical infrastructure.

Ukrainian authorities have previously said that the Russian bombing caused damage to buildings in the facility, but there was no release of radioactivity. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that nuclear material at the facility is always hypocritical and that stockpiles of radioactive material are very low, reducing the risk of radioactive release.

Together with the 3.8 million people who have completely fled Ukraine, the invasion has driven more than 10 million people from their homes, almost a quarter of Ukraine’s population. Thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed.


Andrea Rosa in Kharkov. Nebi Qena in Kyiv? Cara Anna in Lviv and Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Ukraine crisis: President Zelenskyy says West needs more courage in helping Ukrainians fight Source link Ukraine crisis: President Zelenskyy says West needs more courage in helping Ukrainians fight

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