Europe

In response to Russia’s war, Zelensky has called for worldwide protests.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine issued an impassioned plea on Thursday for residents all over the world to take to the streets and squares in protest of Russia’s horrific month-long invasion.

A defiant but clearly exhausted Zelensky asked for worldwide sympathy in an English-language late-night broadcast message from the deserted streets of his nation’s besieged capital Kyiv.

He stated, “The world must put an end to the war.” “Come from your offices, homes, schools, and colleges in the name of peace, carrying Ukrainian emblems to show your support for Ukraine, independence, and life.”

His appeal came a month after Russian tanks crossed the border, igniting a battle that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians and troops on both sides.

More than 10 million Ukrainians have already fled their homes and cities as a result of Russian land, sea, and air bombardment.

There is mounting evidence that Russia’s once-proud military has become severely hampered, forcing it to rely on long-range shelling to shatter Ukraine’s will.

100,000 people are stranded in the southern port city of Mariupol, without food, water, or electricity, and are being shelled by Russian soldiers.

Local officials stated patients had been relocated to the city’s hospital’s basement, where they are treated by candlelight alongside 600-700 other local inhabitants seeking whatever safety they can.

The US government declared the Kremlin’s bombing campaign to be war crimes on Wednesday, deepening a standoff between Moscow and the West that has rivaled the greatest Cold War crises.

“We’ve seen multiple credible claims of indiscriminate attacks and attacks aimed specifically at people, as well as other atrocities,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated.

“The US government believes that members of Russia’s soldiers committed war crimes in Ukraine based on current intelligence.”

So far, the issue has not devolved into a direct military clash between Russia and NATO, but there are rising fears that Russia would escalate the situation by launching a chemical, biological, or even tactical nuclear attack.

From Thursday, US President Joe Biden will be in Brussels for back-to-back emergency NATO, G7, and European Union summits, which will result in vows of more lethal weapons for Ukraine, tougher sanctions on Russia’s already-crippled economy, and warnings of future escalation.

Ukraine’s defiance
Ukrainian forces, armed with an arsenal of Western anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, are believed to have killed as many as 15,000 Russian soldiers and wounded 30,000-40,000 more, according to NATO authorities.

Putin’s dictatorship claims there have been fewer than 500 Russians killed, and has enacted stringent censorship measures to prevent independently verified reports about what it terms a “special military operation” from reaching the public.

However, civilians in Ukraine continue to face the brunt of the conflict.

Zelensky acknowledged that the previous month had been “long,” but praised Ukrainian resistance, which he said had been far more savage than Russia had anticipated and would continue for as long as it took.

In the late-night lecture, he flitted between Ukrainian and his native Russian, saying, “This is a struggle for independence, and we must win.”

“We will restore every city,” he declared, adding that “we will bring the invaders to justice for every crime.” “In a free Ukraine, all of our people will survive.”

Recent days have seen accusations that Ukrainian forces are not only repelling strikes from the Russian military, but also undertaking counteroffensives and reclaiming ground around Kyiv.

“The little city of Makariv and virtually all of Irpin is already under the hands of Ukrainian army,” claimed Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv.

In Irpin, AFP journalists observed heavy artillery exchanges.

Ukraine had “probably retaken Makariv and Moschun” to the northwest of the capital, according to British military intelligence, and “there is a serious prospect that Ukrainian forces are now able to encircle Russian units in Bucha and Irpin.”

Putin retaliates.
Faced with rising diplomatic and economic pressure, Putin’s leadership has responded by threatening that if Russia faces a “existential danger,” it will use nuclear weapons, and has begun tit-for-tat retaliation against the West.

In retaliation for Washington’s decision earlier this month to remove 12 of Moscow’s US-based UN officials, Moscow has sought to expel US diplomats.

Putin stated Wednesday that Russia will only take payments in rubles for gas deliveries to “unfriendly countries,” which includes all EU members, in an effort to mitigate the impact of sanctions on the national currency.

The maneuver sparked a heated debate in Europe, which is highly reliant on Russian energy imports, over future Russian oil and gas bans.

An embargo, according to Moscow, would cause the global energy market to “collapse.”

While Europe appears to be split on the issue of an oil embargo, there are cracks in Putin’s administration as well.

Anatoly Chubais, a former Kremlin chief of staff who led liberal economic reforms in the 1990s, has resigned as a Putin adviser, according to Moscow. In protest of the war, he is said to have fled the nation.

China, Russia’s most important ally, has fought back against suggestions that Moscow be kicked out of the G20 group of nations.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of G20 member Australia believes Putin’s attendance at the conference would be “a step too far.”

NATO beefs up its defenses.
In the latest indicator that the war has reawakened NATO, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg declared that extra soldiers would be sent to deter Russia from escalating its campaign.

At the meeting on Thursday, the leaders will agree on “significant force reinforcements,” including the formation of four new combat units in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.

He added that the allies will provide “extra support” to Kyiv in the face of nuclear and chemical threats.

However, while maintaining a constant supply of anti-tank and short-range anti-aircraft missiles, NATO nations have rebuffed Zelensky’s proposals for a no-fly zone over Ukraine or the shipment of jets to the Ukrainian air force, fearing escalation in the conflict.

Nearly a month after the invasion, peace talks have agreed on daily humanitarian corridors for migrants, and Ukraine has stated that it is willing to accept some Russian demands if a nationwide referendum is held.

It has, however, refused to disarm and abandon its pro-Western objectives in the face of international pressure.

Mykhaylo Podolyak, Ukraine’s chief negotiator, said the peace talks were facing “serious challenges.” The US has been accused by Moscow of undermining the process.

‘An iceberg’s worth of information’

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization warned that Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis was only getting worse.

“The issues we’ve had thus far… are actually the tip of an iceberg of need,” said WHO emergency director Michael Ryan.

“And in the coming weeks, there will have to be a further, tremendous ramping up of help within Ukraine, because I have never seen such complex requirements, and so soon in a crisis that has escalated so quickly,” he says.

“Perhaps, for the first time, we’ve achieved an adequate level of revulsion at what’s going on in Ukraine,” he remarked.

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