The President of Ukraine has launched a burning appeal to citizens around the world to demonstrate against the Russian invasion of his country, a month to the day after its launch and a few hours before a series of summits in Brussels on Thursday between Western leaders.
“Go ahead with Ukrainian symbols to defend Ukraine, to defend freedom, to defend life!” Volodymyr Zelensky launched the night between Wednesday and Thursday via a video message in English. “Meet in the squares, on the street, show yourself and let yourself be heard!” “Speak out, demonstrate from your offices, homes, schools and universities, demonstrate in the name of peace!” hammered the president. “The world must stop the war”.
As the Russian invasion enters its second month, three summits – NATO, G7 and EU – Western Heads of State and Government await in a single day in Brussels. According to the White House, it will above all be a matter of consolidating the arsenal of sanctions already taken, in order to avoid attempts to circumvent Moscow and to strengthen NATO’s position in Eastern Europe in the longer term.
“What we want to hear is that this common commitment that we have seen over the last month will last as long as it takes,” said Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to US President Joe Biden, who arrived in town Wednesday night. Belgian capital, and who will then travel to Poland on Friday. Washington will also announce Thursday “a set of sanctions that pertain to both political figures” and “oligarchs,” Jake Sullivan said.
NATO will deploy four new battle groups in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia to strengthen its defense against Russia on its eastern flank, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has announced.
President Zelensky will speak via video conference at the Brussels Summits. On Wednesday, his chief of staff urged Westerners to supply “offensive weapons” to Ukraine.
Shortly afterwards, praising the Ukrainians’ “extraordinarily brave” opposition, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the delivery of 6,000 additional anti-tank missiles to Kiev. London has already supplied 4,000 of these weapons to Ukraine.
Sweden and Germany, for their part, announced the supply to Ukraine of 5,000 and 2,000 anti-tank weapons, respectively. The Ukrainian forces have already received 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 ground-to-air Stinger-type missile launchers taken from the reserves of the Bundeswehr, the German army.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of “committing war crimes in Ukraine”. “We have seen several credible reports of arbitrary and deliberate attacks on civilians, as well as other atrocities,” he said in a statement, stressing that it would be up to the courts to determine responsibility.
Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that almost 100,000 people were still trapped in the ruins of Mariupol, a large besieged city in the south of the country, “without food, without water, without medicine, under constant bombardment”.
Candles in the hospital
At Mariupol Number One Hospital, patients are treated in basements by candlelight, the city council said. “Candles remain the main source of light. They try to save fuel as much as possible, so diesel generators are used only for complex operations,” the council told Telegram, adding that between 600 and 700 local residents have also sought refuge at this hospital.
The conflict is also deadly for the Russian forces, which have already lost between 7,000 and 15,000 soldiers in Ukraine, according to a senior NATO official, which is based in particular on information from the Ukrainian authorities and intelligence services. The Russian invasion “is deadlocked despite all the destruction it is causing day after day,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
According to Washington, the Russian army’s offensive is stalling on several fronts, especially near the capital Kiev. “The Ukrainians managed to push the Russians back 55 km east and northeast of Kiev,” a senior Pentagon official told reporters on condition of anonymity. “It’s not that they’re not moving forward, it’s that they are not trying to move forward. They are taking defensive positions,” he added.
When it fails to conquer the big cities, the Russian army continues to bomb them. In Kiev, a new strike in the parking lot of a shopping mall left one dead and two injured Wednesday, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko. Earlier in the day, four people were injured in bombings on buildings.
A Russian journalist, Oksana Baulina, was killed Wednesday in a bombing raid on Kiev, the online media she worked for told The Insider.
More than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine since February 24, according to the UN statement released on Wednesday. In all, about ten million people, about a quarter of the country’s population, have been forced from their homes.
The UN General Assembly of 193 states is expected on Thursday to adopt a new resolution that will “demand” from Russia an “immediate” end to the war in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the embassies of the countries involved in the crisis are continuing to be emptied. Russia on Wednesday decided to expel US diplomats in retaliation for Washington’s deportation of 12 members of Russia’s mission to the UN. Poland has expelled 45 Russian diplomats suspected of espionage. And Belarus will expel most Ukrainian diplomats stationed on its territory, accusing Kiev of “unfriendly” actions and “interference” in the country’s affairs.
In Russia, the media regulator (Roskomnadzor) has restricted access to the online service News.Google, accused of providing access to “false” information about the war. Since the start of the invasion on February 24, the Russian government has tightened its control significantly over the information disseminated on the Internet.
Many Russian and foreign media, including the BBC, have been banned from access, and the American social networks Facebook and Instagram have been declared “extremist” by a court in Moscow. Access to Twitter has also been restricted. Last week, Roskomnadzor accused Google and its video service YouTube of “terrorist” activities, a first step towards a possible blockade.