Ukraine urges stop of Russia attack as Biden drives to Poland

A man carries belongings from a house hit by a bomb attack in a northern Kharkiv district as the Russian attack on Ukraine continues
A man carries belongings from a house hit by bombing in a northern district of Kharkiv as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

March 25, 2022

LVIV/MARIUPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that Ukrainians must “achieve peace” and stop the Russian bombing, which has forced millions to flee to countries like Poland, where US President Joe Biden first tackled the crisis will witness hand.

Following leaders’ summits in Brussels aimed at showing a united Western front against Russia’s months-long invasion of its neighbor, Biden travels to Poland on Friday to meet experts involved in the refugee response.

Western leaders condemned Moscow’s invasion as barbaric and pledged new military and humanitarian aid after talks in Brussels on Thursday.

The Russian invasion, which President Vladimir Putin has dubbed a “special operation,” has killed thousands of people, sent 3.6 million abroad and displaced more than half of Ukraine’s children from their homes, according to the United Nations.

Zelenskyi said he appealed to Western leaders “all for one reason” – so that Russia understands that we must achieve peace. Russia too must create peace.”

“Every day we defend, we get closer to the peace we so desperately need… and you can’t stop for a minute. Because every minute is about our fate, it’s about our future. About whether we live.”


The new Western aid fell short of Zelenskyy’s calls for a complete boycott of Russian energy and a no-fly zone over Ukraine, where Moscow’s bombing has blown some residential areas into wasteland.

But in a significant escalation of deadly aid on offer, a senior US government official said the United States and its allies are working to support Ukraine with anti-ship missiles that could threaten Russian operations in the south.

Ukraine earlier said its forces destroyed a large Russian landing ship, the Orsk, in the southern port of Berdyansk. Video footage showed fire and an explosion, and two ships, one appearing damaged, sailed away while a third burned.

Russia did not respond to requests for comment and Reuters could not confirm if it was the burning Orsk.

Russia has so far failed to capture a major Ukrainian city in an attack it says is aimed not at occupying territory but at destroying Ukraine’s military capabilities.

Russia’s shelling has been relentless, but its armored columns have barely moved in weeks and have stalled near the capital, Kyiv.

Ukraine says Russian forces have suffered heavy casualties and are running low on supplies, and US officials told Reuters that Russia is suffering failure rates of up to 60% on some of its precision-guided missiles.

As supplies of precision-guided munitions ran out, Russian forces would rely more on unguided bombs and artillery, Defense Policy Undersecretary Colin Kahl said.

The United States accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, allegations that Russia denies.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday that Russian forces had tortured Ukrainian prisoners. The allegations could not be independently verified.

“We will find every Russian soldier who commits war crimes, along with his accomplices…don’t think we don’t know your last names. No one will escape punishment,” Vereshchuk said.

The United States and Britain on Thursday expanded sanctions to new targets, and Japan followed suit on Friday, saying it would tighten its sanctions and strip Russia of most-favored-nation nation trade status.

Australia sanctioned Russia-allied Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and members of his family, as well as 22 Russian individuals.

But Russian ex-president and deputy head of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said sanctions would only unite Russian society. Those who target wealthy confidants of Putin are particularly pointless, he told the Russian news agency RIA.

“Let’s ask ourselves: Can any of these big businessmen have any influence over the position of the country’s leadership? I’ll tell you frankly: no, absolutely not,” he said.


Russia says its goals in Ukraine include capturing what it considers dangerous nationalists. It also states that the eastward expansion of the NATO military alliance threatens Russia’s security.

Weeks of peace talks have not brought any breakthrough. Meanwhile, civilians are subjected to heavy Russian air raids and artillery attacks.

In the besieged southern port of Mariupol, which lies between Russia-annexed Crimea and eastern territories held by Russian-backed separatists, thousands are in basements with short of water, food, medicine or electricity.

A woman queuing in the city to get groceries told Reuters her diabetic husband fell into a coma and died before help arrived. He was buried in a flower bed.

“We plan to go but it’s very difficult at the moment,” said the woman, who gave her name as Alexandra. “I can’t leave my husband in a flower bed… And then we have nowhere to go.”

The chief of staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Thursday Russia was trying to resume the offensive to capture Mariupol, as well as Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv.

Still, Ukraine says it is going on the offensive and has pushed back Russian forces in some places.

Civilians have managed to flee through humanitarian corridors negotiated by Ukrainian and Russian officials. About 3,300 escaped Thursday, officials said.

Poland, home to the largest Ukrainian refugee population in the region even before the war, has taken in more than 2.1 million people. Public services are struggling to cope.

During his visit to Poland, Biden will meet with President Andrzej Duda to “thank him for everything the people of Poland are doing” and to discuss a coordinated humanitarian response, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said , told reporters.

(Reporting by a Reuters journalist in Mariupol; Pavel Polityuk in Lviv; David Ljunggren in Ottawa; and Reuters offices worldwide; writing by Rami Ayyub and Stephen Coates; editing by Grant McCool, Lincoln Feast and Michael Perry) Ukraine urges stop of Russia attack as Biden drives to Poland

Bobby Allyn

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