Photo: Canadian Press
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Ukrainian president said his country’s defense against Russian aggression is at a “turning point” and again pressured the United States for more help after the Kremlin’s military pledged to withdraw some of its operations.
Russian forces bombed Kyiv and areas around the northern city of Chernihiv and intensified attacks in other parts of the country on Wednesday, raising already deep doubts about any progress toward ending the punitive war. According to the head of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arkhamia, talks between Ukraine and Russia were set to resume by video on Friday.
Meanwhile, a delegation of lawmakers from Ukraine’s parliament visited Washington to push the US to increase aid, saying their country needs more military equipment, more financial aid and tougher sanctions against Russia.
“We need to drive out Russian troops from our soil, and for this we need all possible weapons,” Ukrainian parliament member Anastasia Radina told a news conference at the Ukrainian embassy.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made the case directly to US President Joe Biden.
“If we are really fighting together to protect freedom and democracy, then we have a right to ask for help at this difficult juncture. Tanks, aircraft, artillery systems. Freedom must be armed no worse than tyranny,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation, which he delivered while standing in the dark outside the dimly lit presidential offices in Kyiv. He thanked the United States for the additional $500 million in aid announced Wednesday.
Between Russia and Ukraine, especially after the nearly face-off of the Russian military and its most recent attacks, there was little confidence of a resolution any time soon.
Russia said on Tuesday it would reduce operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv in order to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further talks”. The announcement was met with skepticism from Zelensky and the West. And soon after, Ukrainian officials reported that Russians opened fire on homes, shops, libraries and other civilian sites in or near those areas.
The Ukrainian side said Russian troops intensified their attacks on the Donbass region in the east and around the city of Izium, which lies on an important route to the Donbass, after redeploying units from other regions.
Chernihiv city council secretary Alexander Lomako said the Russian announcement turned out to be a “complete lie”.
“In the night they did not decrease, but on the contrary increased the intensity of military action,” Lomaco said.
According to the United Nations, five weeks into the invasion, which has killed thousands of people on both sides, the number of Ukrainians fleeing the country is more than 4 million, half of them children.
Zelensky said the ongoing talks with Russia were only “words without specifics”.
Zelensky said of Russia’s pledge, “We know this is not a withdrawal, but the consequences of being ousted.” “But we are also seeing that Russia is now concentrating its forces on new attacks on the Donbass, and we are preparing for it.”
Zelensky also said that he had recalled Ukraine’s ambassadors to Georgia and Morocco, suggesting that he had not done enough to persuade those countries to support Ukraine and punish Russia for the invasion. .
“With all due respect, if there will be no weapons, there will be no sanctions, there will be no sanctions for Russian trade, please look for other work,” he said.