LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Ukraine is not going to join NATO “any time soon,” after the country’s president acknowledged Ukraine would not become part of the Western military alliance.
President Vladimir Putin has long depicted Ukraine’s NATO aspirations as a threat to Russia, something the alliance denies.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that Ukraine realized it could not join NATO, his most explicit acknowledgment that the goal, enshrined in Ukraine’s constitution, was unlikely to be met.
It came as Russia and Ukraine held a new round of talks, with Zelenskyy saying Wednesday that Russian demands were becoming “more realistic.”
On Wednesday, Johnson — one of the most vocal Western supporters of Ukraine — said “the reality of the position” is that “there is no way Ukraine is going to join NATO any time soon.” But he said the decision had to be for Ukraine to make.
HERE ARE TODAY’S KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Russia has stepped up its bombardment of Kyiv, as a series of strikes hit a residential neighborhood in the capital city
— Ukraine’s president is preparing to make a direct appeal to the US Congress for more help
— Ukraine sees possible room for compromise in talks with Russia despite new assaults on Mariupol
— US President Joe Biden will travel to Europe next week for face-to-face talks with European leaders about Russia’s invasion
Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for updates throughout the day.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
LVIV, Ukraine — Satellite photos from Planet Labs PBC analyzed by The Associated Press show a suspected Ukrainian strike on the Russian-held Kherson International Airport and Air Base set several helicopters and vehicles ablaze.
The images Tuesday at the dual-use airfield show thick black smoke rising overhead from the blazes. At least three helicopters appeared to be on fire, as well as several vehicles. At a pad further away, other helicopters appeared damaged from an earlier strike.
The Ukrainian president’s office said that fighting had continued at Kherson airport on Tuesday, with “powerful blasts” rocking the area during the course of the day. They said they were assessing damage in the area, without elaborating.
Kherson is about 450 kilometers (275 miles) southeast of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
Meanwhile, satellite images Tuesday of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, showed no damage to the site’s six reactors after Russian forces engaged in a firefight to seize the facility. Zaporizhzhia is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and the fighting raised fears about safety there.
Zaporizhzhia is about the same distance and direction as Kherson from Kyiv. Residents in the region are building barricades and setting up firing positions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said some 4,000 vehicles left Mariupol in the first major evacuation from the southern city, but most of the convoy spent the night on the road out toward Zaporizhzhia.
NEW YORK — Russia’s Defense Ministry reported fighting near the separatist-held eastern regions Wednesday but did not comment on Russian military activity elsewhere.
Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov claimed Russian forces have destroyed 111 Ukrainian aircraft, 160 drones and more than 1,000 tanks or other military vehicles since the start of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The Russian military’s daily public statements on the war focus almost exclusively on fighting in the separatist-held Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and on Ukrainian military targets, without acknowledging attacks on civilians.
KHARKIV, Ukraine — Hospital workers in Ukraine’s second-largest city find themselves on two frontlines, battling COVID-19 in intensive care units as war rages outside.
The Kharkiv Regional Clinical Infectious Diseases Hospital, the city’s leading facility for treating virus patients throughout the pandemic, has barricaded its windows and is adapting every day.
Hospital director Dr. Pavel Nartov said air raid sirens go off multiple times daily, forcing fragile patients into the hospital’s makeshift bomb shelter. Handling ICU patients on ventilators is the most difficult and dangerous part of the process, but also the most crucial, given the dangers of exposing oxygen tanks to bombings and shrapnel, he said.
“Bombing takes place from morning into night. Thank God a bomb has not yet hit our hospital. But it could hit at any time,” he told The Associated Press.
Kharkiv has been under sustained fire from Russian forces since the outbreak of the war, with shelling hitting residential buildings and sending masses of people fleeing.
Ukraine’s official daily COVID-19 cases reached record highs in February but have declined since Russia invaded amid the chaos of war. COVID-19 concerns have fallen by the wayside as people focus on fleeing the fighting.
TOKYO — US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel praised Japan Wednesday for standing with the US and other Western nations in announcing its latest sanctions to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Emanuel noted Japan’s ban on the exports of about 300 goods to Russia and Belarus, including semiconductors and communications equipment, as well as its stripping Russia of its most favored nation trade status.
“Japan’s actions demonstrate its steadfast commitment to stand in unity with the United States, our allies and partners in Europe and around the world, and the Ukrainian people,” he said.
The US also welcomed Japan’s recent decision to freeze the assets of 17 more Russian politicians, tycoons and their relatives. The number of Russians targeted by Japan’s sanctions that freezes their assets now totals 61.
KYIV, Ukraine — A plume of smoke was seen rising up over western Kyiv on Wednesday morning after shrapnel from an artillery shell slammed into a 12-story apartment building in central Kyiv, obliterating the top floor and igniting a fire, according to a statement and images released by the Kyiv emergencies agency.
The neighboring building was also damaged. The agency reported two victims, without elaborating.
Russian forces have intensified fighting in Kyiv suburbs, notably around the town of Bucha in the northwest and the highway leading west toward Zhytomyr, the head of the Kyiv region Oleksiy Kuleba said Wednesday.
He said Russian troops are trying to cut off the capital from transport arteries and destroy logistical capabilities even as they plan a wide-ranging attack to seize Kyiv.
Twelve towns around Kyiv are without water and six without heat.
Russia has occupied the city of Ivankiv, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Kyiv, and controls the surrounding region on the border with Belarus, Kuleba said.
Across the Kyiv region, he said, “Kindergartens, museums, churches, residential blocks and engineering infrastructure are suffering from the endless firing.”
LVIV, Ukraine — Russian warships around midnight fired missiles and artillery at the Ukrainian sea coast near Tuzla, to the south of Odesa, Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said.
“They fired a huge amount of ammunition from a great distance,” he said on Facebook.
Gerashchenko said Russia wanted to test Ukraine’s coastal defense system.
He said there was no attempt to land troops. He didn’t say whether any of the shelling hit anything.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine said a fourth Russian general has been killed in the fighting.
Maj. Gen. Oleg Mityaev died Tuesday during the storming of Mariupol, said Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko, who published a photo on Telegram of what he said was the dead officer.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported the death of another Russian general in his nighttime address but didn’t name him.
Mityaev, 46, commanded the 150th motorized rifle division and had fought in Syria, Gerashchenko said.
There was no confirmation of the death from Russia.
NEW YORK — The Russian state television employee who was arrested after interrupting a live news program by protesting the war in Ukraine said she was not allowed to sleep in police custody and was interrogated for 14 hours.
“These were very difficult days of my life because I literally went two full days without sleep, the interrogation lasted for more than 14 hours and they didn’t allow me to contact my family and close friends, didn’t provide any legal support, ” Marina Ovsyannikova said after she was released.
Ovsyannikova, an employee of Channel 1, walked into the studio during Monday’s evening news show with a poster saying “stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.” In English, it said “no war” at the top of the poster and “Russians against the war” at the bottom.
In a video recorded before her action, she urged Russians to join anti-war protests and said that “Russia is the aggressor country and one person, Vladimir Putin, solely bears responsibility for that aggression.”
She was fined 30,000 rubles (about $270) on charges of organizing unsanctioned actions for her call to take part in demonstrations against the war.
The state news agency Tass said Ovsyannikova was fined for the video, not for her appearance during the news show.
She remains under investigation for that on-air protest, Tass said, citing a law enforcement source. Tass said Ovsyannikova is being investigated under a new law against the dissemination of “deliberately false information” about the use of Russian armed forces, which carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.