© Reuters. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses French lawmakers via video link, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues in Kyiv, Ukraine March 23, 2022. Press service of the President of Ukraine / Media via REUTERS
By Jarrett Renshaw and Pavel Polityuk
BRUSSELS/LVIV/MARIUPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) – Western leaders flocked to military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine on Thursday and denounced Moscow’s aggression against its neighbor as “barbaric” man” when thousands of people in besieged cities were sheltered underground from Russian bombardment.
At an unprecedented three-nation summit in Brussels, the transatlantic alliance NATO, the wealthy G7 nations and European leaders addressed the continent’s worst conflict since the wars. the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
NATO announced plans to create new combat units in four Eastern European countries near Ukraine, while Washington and London stepped up aid and expanded sanctions to target new targets, including: a woman London believes to be the stepdaughter of the Russian foreign minister.
“The most important thing for us is to stay united and the world continues to focus on what this brute is and all the innocent lives are being lost and ruined,” Biden said. with reporters in Brussels, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: “Putin has crossed a red line into barbarism.
The European Union was prepared to announce steps to cut itself off Russian energy, something that is likely to raise fuel costs further across the continent. Moscow supplies 40% of the EU’s overall gas needs and more than a quarter of EU oil imports.
These measures stopped short of calls by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for a complete boycott of Russian energy and a no-fly zone over Ukraine, where Moscow’s bombs are wreaking havoc.
Reacting to Thursday’s show of solidarity in Brussels, Moscow said the West had blamed itself for the war by arming the “Kyiv regime”.
According to the United Nations, the Russian invasion that occurred on February 24th killed thousands, sent 3.6 million people abroad, smashed cities and displaced more than half of Ukraine’s children. abandon their homes, according to the United Nations.
‘DUST INTO DUST’
Raisa Kairat, 83, laments that the besieged southern port has now become a wasteland.
In Mariupol, halfway between Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern regions held by Russian-backed separatists, thousands of people are in basements with little water, food, medicine or energy, looking for seek shelter from intense Russian bombardment.
In one part captured by the Russians, a lawn between blasted buildings became a makeshift cemetery. Freshly dug mounds are marked with plastic flowers and crosses made from broken window frames.
“It could have been me,” Viktoria sobbed as she buried her 73-year-old stepfather, Leonid, who was killed when his car to the hospital blew up.
During a month of fighting, Ukraine withstood what many analysts predicted was a swift Russian victory.
To date, Moscow has not captured any major cities. Despite relentless Russian shelling, its armored columns barely moved for weeks, stalling near the capital Kyiv and besieging cities to the east.
They had suffered heavy casualties and low supplies. Ukraine says it is now turning to the offensive and has repelled Russian forces, including north of Kyiv.
Ukraine’s armed forces said they repelled five Russian attacks in the east of the country on Thursday, destroying vehicles including tanks and killing 130 soldiers. Reuters was unable to corroborate this claim.
Ukraine also said its forces destroyed the Russian landing ship “Orsk” in the Russian-occupied port of Berdyansk.
The video, which Reuters confirmed was from Berdyansk, showed smoke rising from flames at a pier and the glow of an explosion. Russian officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
As Biden rallied allies on his first foreign trip since the war began, Washington announced more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and offered to take in 100,000 refugees.
The Kremlin accuses NATO of having a “hysterical and incomplete understanding” of events in Ukraine, a former Soviet Republic linked since the 9th century when Kyiv became the capital of the Rus state. ancient.
Putin says that NATO’s eastward expansion threatens Russia’s security and separates it from Ukraine.
RUSSIA RE-issued at the UN
The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Thursday that Russia is still trying to continue its offensive to capture the cities of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Mariupol and Kharkiv.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, hundreds of people gathered inside metro stations deep underground to avoid Russian missile attacks and near-daily shelling.
One woman sheltering in the subway, Natalia Shaposhnik, said she knows Russians who don’t believe civilians have been shot, despite the carnage over the past four weeks.
“I wrote them (that) I was sheltering with my kids in the subway for a month and they didn’t believe me. They said, ‘It’s your own fault, you’re to blame, it’s you, you, you, you , “she speaks.
At the UN, nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly demanded access to aid in Ukraine and criticized Russia for the “catastrophic” humanitarian situation – the second time the body has overwhelmingly isolated Moscow over the invasion. .
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of Putin, posted on social media that Chechen fighters had captured the main administrative building in Mariupol and raised their flag there. His account could not be independently verified.
In the Russian-administered area, food trucks are packed in boxes marked “Z” which Russia calls “special operations”. Hundreds of people, many of them elderly, emerged from the rubble, lined up mostly in silence as men dressed in Russian Emergencies Ministry uniforms distributed boxes.
Angelina, a young mother of two, said she received bread, diapers and baby food. “It’s very difficult to go by bus now. We hope the number of people trying to get out will decrease and it will be easier for us to leave,” she said.