Ukraine asks for help, says Russia wants to divide the nation

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LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the West of cowardice on Sunday while another senior official said Russia was trying to divide the nation in two like North Korea and South Korea .

LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the West of cowardice on Sunday while another senior official said Russia was trying to divide the nation in two like North Korea and South Korea .

Zelenskyy made an exasperated plea for fighter jets and tanks to help defend his country against invading Russian troops. Russia now says its main goal is to take control of the eastern Donbass region, an apparent step back from its earlier larger goals but raising fears of a divided Ukraine.

Speaking after US President Joe Biden said in a heartbreaking speech that Russian President Vladimir Putin could not stay in power – words the White House immediately sought to downplay – Zelenskyy lashed out at “pinging -pong of the West on who and how should hand over the jets” and other weapons while Russian missile attacks kill and trap civilians.

“I spoke to Mariupol defenders today. I am in constant contact with them. Their determination, heroism and steadfastness are astonishing,” Zelenskyy said in a video address, referring to the beleaguered southern city that suffered some of the greatest deprivation and horrors of war. “If only those who have been thinking for 31 days about handing over dozens of jets and tanks had 1% of their courage.”

Zelenskyy also told independent Russian journalists on Sunday that his government would consider declaring neutrality and offering security guarantees to Russia, repeating earlier statements. This would include keeping Ukraine free of nuclear weapons, he said.

He told reporters that the issue of neutrality – and agreeing to stay out of NATO – should be put to Ukrainian voters in a referendum after Russian troops withdraw. He said a vote could take place a few months after the troops leave.

Russia quickly banned publication of the interview. Roskomnadzor, which regulates communications for Moscow, issued the ban, saying action could be taken against Russian media that participated, including “those that are foreign media acting as foreign agents.”

Russian-based media appeared to respect the ban despite the interview being published abroad.

Zelenskyy responded by saying that Moscow was afraid of a relatively short conversation with journalists. “It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic,” he said, according to Ukrainian news agency RBK Ukraina.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stalled in many areas. His aim to quickly encircle the capital, kyiv, and force its surrender failed in the face of Ukrainian resistance, bolstered by arms from the United States and other Western allies.

Moscow says its goal is to wrest the entire eastern region of Donbass, which has been partially controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. A senior Russian military official said on Friday that troops had been redirected east from other parts of the country. .

Russia has backed separatist rebels in Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk since an insurgency erupted there shortly after Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. During talks with Ukraine, Moscow demanded that kyiv recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, accused Russia of seeking to split Ukraine in two, drawing the comparison with North Korea and South Korea.

“The occupiers will try to transform the occupied territories into a single quasi-state structure and pit them against independent Ukraine,” Budanov said in a statement released by the Defense Ministry. He predicted that Ukrainian-led guerrilla warfare would derail these plans.

A Ukrainian delegate in talks with Russia on ending the war, Davyd Arakhamia, said in a Facebook post that the countries would meet in Turkey from Monday. However, the Russians then announced that the talks would begin on Tuesday. The parties have already met without reaching an agreement.

Ukraine’s priorities at the talks will be “sovereignty and territorial integrity”, Zelenskyy told his country in his evening speech.

“We are looking for peace, really, without delay,” he said. “There is an opportunity and a need for a face-to-face meeting in Turkey.”

Zelenskyy also signed a law prohibiting reporting of troop and equipment movements that were not announced or approved by the military. Journalists who break the law risk three to eight years in prison. The law does not differentiate between Ukrainian and foreign journalists.

Ukraine claims that to defeat Russia, the West must provide fighter jets and not just missiles and other military equipment. A proposal to transfer Polish planes to Ukraine via the United States was dropped amid NATO fears of being drawn into direct combat.

In his pointed remarks, Zelenskyy accused Western governments of being “afraid to prevent this tragedy.” Afraid to just make a decision.

His call was echoed by a priest in the western city of Lviv, which was hit by rockets a day earlier. The airstrike showed that Moscow, despite claims it intends to move the war east, is ready to strike anywhere in Ukraine.

“When diplomacy doesn’t work, we need military support,” said Reverend Yuri Vaskiv, who said fearful parishioners stayed away from his Greek Catholic church.

On the road to kyiv, residents of a village comb through the rubble of ongoing Russian attacks. Residents of Byshiv, about 35 kilometers from kyiv. walked through torn and bomb-destroyed buildings to salvage what they could, including books, shelves and framed photos.

Standing in what was once a kindergarten classroom, teacher Svetlana Grybovska said too many children had been victimized.

“It’s not right,” Grybovska told UK broadcaster Sky News. “Children are not guilty of anything.”

Russia has confirmed that it used air-launched cruise missiles to hit a fuel depot and defense factory in Lyiv, near the Polish border. Another strike with sea-launched missiles destroyed a depot in Plesetske, just west of kyiv, where Ukraine was storing air defense missiles, said Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the ministry. Russian Defense.

Consecutive Russian airstrikes rocked the city which became a haven for around 200,000 people who fled the bombed towns. Lviv, which was largely spared the shelling, has also been a stage for most of the 3.8 million refugees who have left Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24.

In a dark and crowded bomb shelter under a building near the first explosion site, Olana Ukrainets, a 34-year-old information technology professional, said she could not believe she had to hide again after fleeing the city of Kharkiv in the northeast of the country. one of the most bombed cities.

“We were on one side of the street and we saw it from the other side,” she said. “We saw the fire. I said to my friend, ‘What is this?’ Then we heard the sound of an explosion and glass breaking.

In Kharkiv, Ukrainian firefighters used axes and chainsaws to dig through concrete and other debris on Sunday in search of victims of a Russian military strike on the regional administration building. A body was found on Saturday, a firefighter said. At least six people died in the March 1 attack – the first time Russian forces hit central Kharkiv, once home to 1.5 million people.

On Sunday evening, a rocket attack hit an oil base in the far northwest of Volyn.

Along with the millions who fled Ukraine, the invasion drove more than 10 million people from their homes, almost a quarter of Ukraine’s population. Thousands of civilians were reportedly killed.

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

Yuras Karmanau, Associated Press

























































































































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