Ukraine crisis: President Zelenskyy says West needs more courage to help Ukrainians fight

LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the West of lacking courage as his country struggles to repel Russian invasion, urging fighter jets and tanks to maintain a defense in a conflict that has become a war of attrition.

After US President Joe Biden met with senior Ukrainian officials in Poland on Saturday, Zelenskyy banged the “West’s ping-pong about who and how should give us jets and other defense weapons” while Russian missile strikes killed and jailed civilians.

“I spoke to the Mariupol defenders today. I am in constant contact with them. Their determination, heroism and steadfastness are amazing,” Zelenskyy said in a video address early Sunday, referring to the beleaguered southern city that has endured some of the war’s greatest hardships and horrors. “If only those who spent 31 days contemplating handing over dozens of jets and tanks had just 1% of their courage.”

Now in its 32nd day, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stalled on many fronts, its aim to quickly surround the capital Kyiv and force its surrender failing in the face of staunch Ukrainian resistance – backed by US and US arms other western ally.

However, Western military aid has so far not included fighter jets. A proposal to move Polish planes to Ukraine via the United States was scrapped due to NATO concerns about being drawn into a military conflict with Russia.

“So who is in charge of the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it still Moscow thanks to its scaremongering?” exclaimed Zelenskyy as he made his pointed remarks. “Our partners must step up their aid to Ukraine.”

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday the battlefield in northern Ukraine remains largely static as local Ukrainian counterattacks hamper Russian attempts to reorganize its forces. It said Russia’s forces appeared to be attempting to encircle Ukrainian forces directly confronting separatist regions in the east of the country.

Moscow has claimed its focus is on wresting Ukraine’s entire eastern Donbass region from Ukrainian control. The region has been partially controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. A senior Russian military official said Friday that troops from other parts of the country were being diverted east.

Despite those claims, Russian missiles hit the western city of Lviv on Saturday while Biden was visiting neighboring Poland, serving as a reminder that Moscow is poised to strike anywhere in Ukraine.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Sunday that it used air-launched cruise missiles to hit a fuel storage facility and a defense facility in Lyiv. Konashenkov said another sea-launched missile attack destroyed an air defense missile depot in Plesetske, west of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

The strikes came as Biden was wrapping up a visit to Poland, where he met Ukraine’s foreign and defense ministers, visited US troops and saw war refugees. Before leaving, he delivered a powerful and very personal condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying: “For God’s sake, this man cannot stay in power.”

The White House quickly made it clear that Biden was not demanding an immediate change of government in Moscow. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned the statement, saying: “It is not up to the US President and not to Americans to decide who stays in power in Russia.”

A chemical smell still lingered in the air early Sunday when firefighters in Lviv, some 72 kilometers from the Polish border, sprayed water on a burned portion of an oil facility hit in the Russian attack.

A security guard at the site, Yaroslav Prokopiv, said he saw three rockets land, destroying two oil tanks, but no one was injured.

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

Russia’s successive airstrikes have rocked the city, which has become a haven for an estimated 200,000 people fleeing bombed cities. Lviv has also been a way station for most of the 3.8 million refugees who have left Ukraine since Russia first invaded on February 24.

The city had been largely spared since the invasion began, although missiles hit an aircraft repair shop near the main airport a week ago.

Inside the gloomy, overcrowded air-raid shelter beneath an apartment block not far from the first blast site, Olana Ukrainets, a 34-year-old IT professional, said she couldn’t believe she had to go into hiding again after fleeing the northeastern city of Kharkiv. one of the most bombed cities of the war.

“We were on one side of the street and we saw it on the other side,” she said. “We saw fire. I said to my friend, ‘What is that?’ “Then we heard the sound of an explosion and broken glass. We tried to hide between buildings. I don’t know what the goal was.”

In his video address, Zelenskyi angrily warned Moscow that it was instilling deep hatred for Russia among the Ukrainian population, as constant artillery fire and airstrikes reduced cities to rubble, killing civilians and driving others into shelters, leaving them in search of food and water to go to Survive.

“You are doing everything so that our people themselves leave the Russian language, because now the Russian language is associated only with you, with your explosions and murders, your crimes,” said Zelenskyy.

A nuclear research facility in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city and close to the Russian border, came under fire again on Saturday. Ukraine’s nuclear watchdog said the ongoing hostilities made it impossible to estimate the extent of the damage.

Kharkiv has been under siege by Russian forces since the invasion began and has come under repeated shelling, hitting residential buildings and critical infrastructure.

Ukrainian authorities have previously reported that Russian shelling damaged buildings at the facility, but no radiation was released. The International Atomic Energy Agency has stated that the nuclear material at the facility is always subcritical and the inventory of radioactive material is very low, reducing the risk of a radiation release.

Along with the 3.8 million people who fled Ukraine entirely, the invasion has displaced more than 10 million people, almost a quarter of Ukraine’s population. Thousands of civilians are said to have been killed.


Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv; Nebi Qena in Kyiv; Cara Anna in Lviv and Associated Press journalists 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 to help Ukrainians fight

Dais Johnston

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