Zelenskyy: The West needs more courage to help Ukraine fight back


LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused the West of lacking courage as his country struggles to stave off an invasion from Russia, issuing an exasperated plea for fighter jets and tanks to support a defense in a conflict that has

LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused the West of lacking courage as his country struggles to stave off an invasion from Russia, issuing an exasperated plea for fighter jets and tanks to support a defense in a conflict that has turned into a war of attrition.

Speaking after US President Joe Biden met with senior Ukrainian officials in Poland on Saturday, Zelenskyy hit out at ‘Western ping-pong over who and how should hand over jets and other defensive weapons to us’ while Russian missile attacks kill and entrap 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 early Sunday, 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 how to deliver dozens of jets and tanks had 1% of their courage.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its 32nd day, has stalled in many areas, its aim to quickly encircle the capital, kyiv, and force its surrender wavering in the face of resistance fierce Ukrainian – reinforced with weapons from the United States and other Western allies.

However, Western military aid has so far not included fighter jets. A proposal to transfer Polish planes to Ukraine via the United States was dropped amid NATO fears of 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 scare tactics? Zelenskyy exclaimed as he delivered his pointed remarks. “Our partners must step up their aid to Ukraine.”

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

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

Despite the claims, Russian rockets hit the western city of Lviv on Saturday while Biden traveled to neighboring Poland, a reminder that Moscow is ready to strike anywhere in Ukraine.

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

The strikes came as Biden wrapped up a visit to Poland, where he met with Ukrainian foreign and defense ministers, visited US troops and saw refugees from the war. Before leaving, he delivered a forceful and very personal condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying: “For the love of God, this man cannot stay in power.”

The White House quickly clarified that Biden was not calling for an immediate change of government in Moscow. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced the remark, saying “it is not up to the President of the United States or the Americans to decide who will stay in power in Russia.”

Early on Sunday, a chemical smell still lingered in the air as firefighters in Lviv, about 72 kilometers from the Polish border, sprayed water on a scorched section of an oil facility hit in the Russian attack .

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

“The third hit knocked me to the ground,” he said.

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

The city had been largely untouched since the start of the invasion, although missiles hit an aircraft repair factory near the main airport a week ago.

In the dark and crowded bomb shelter under a building a few steps from the first explosion site, Olana Ukrainets, a 34-year-old IT professional, said she could not believe she had to hiding again after fleeing the northeastern city of Kharkiv, one of the most heavily bombed cities of the war.

“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. We tried to hide between the buildings. I don’t know what the target was.

In his video speech, Zelenskyy angrily warned Moscow that he was sowing deep hatred for Russia among the Ukrainian people, as constant artillery barrages and aerial bombardments reduced cities to rubble, killing civilians and pushing others in shelters, leaving them to search for food. and water to survive.

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

A nuclear research facility in Kharkiv, which is Ukraine’s second-largest city and located near the Russian border, came under fire again on Saturday. Ukraine’s nuclear watchdog said due to ongoing hostilities it was impossible to assess the extent of the damage.

Kharkiv has been besieged by Russian forces since the start of the invasion and has come under repeated shelling that has hit 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 said the nuclear materials at the facility are still subcritical and the inventory of radioactive materials is very low, reducing the chances of radiation release.

In addition to the 3.8 million people who fled Ukraine completely, the invasion drove more than 10 million people from their homes, nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s population. Thousands of civilians were reportedly killed.


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


Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Yuras Karmanau, Associated Press


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