Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is preparing to visit Washington on Wednesday, according to three AP sources, in his first known trip outside the country since Russia’s invasion began in February. Two congressional sources and one person familiar with the matter confirmed plans for the visit. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the highly sensitive nature of the trip. They said Zelenskyy’s visit, while expected, could still be called off at the last minute due to security concerns. The visit to Washington is set to include an address to Congress on Capitol Hill and a meeting with President Joe Biden. It comes as lawmakers are set to vote on a year-end spending package that includes about $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and as the U.S. prepares to send Patriot surface-to-air missiles to the country to help stave off Russia’s invasion. The visit comes a day after Zelenskyy made a daring and dangerous trip to what he called the hottest spot on the 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) front line, the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s contested Donetsk province, where he praised Ukrainian troops for their “courage, resilience and strength” as artillery boomed in the background. The Ukrainian leader told the troops he passed through Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Druzhkivka to reach Bakhmut in an unannounced trip that appeared designed to show Moscow’s failure to capture the city and dishearten the Russians trying to surround it. Read: Wartime Ukraine erasing Russian past from public spaces “Bakhmut Fortress. Our people. Unconquered by the enemy. Who with their bravery prove that we will endure and will not give up what’s ours,” he wrote on his Telegram channel, thanking the troops for “the courage, resilience and strength shown in repelling the enemy attacks. “Since May, the occupiers have been trying to break our Bakhmut, but time goes by and Bakhmut is already breaking not only the Russian army, but also the Russian mercenaries who came to replace the wasted army of the occupiers,” he said. Russia’s invasion, which began Feb. 24, has lost momentum. The illegally annexed provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia remain fiercely contested. Capturing Bakhmut would sever Ukraine’s supply lines and open a route for Russian forces to press on toward cities that are key Ukrainian strongholds in the Donetsk province. In a video released by his office from the Bakhmut visit, Zelenskyy was handed a Ukrainian flag and alluded to delivering it to U.S. leaders. “The guys handed over our beautiful Ukrainian flag with their signatures for us to pass on,” Zelenskyy said in the video. “We are not in an easy situation. The enemy is increasing its army. Our people are braver and need more powerful weapons. We will pass it on from the boys to the Congress, to the president of the United States. We are grateful for their support, but it is not enough. It is a hint — it is not enough.” The latest tranche of U.S. funding would be the biggest American infusion of assistance yet to Ukraine, above even Biden’s $37 billion emergency request, and ensure that funding flows to the war effort for months to come. Read: Kyiv targeted in early morning drone attack: Authorities On Wednesday, the U.S. was also set to announce that it will send $1.8 billion in military aid to Ukraine in a major package that will for the first time include a Patriot missile battery and precision guided bombs for its fighter jets, U.S. officials said. The aid signals an expansion by the U.S. in the kinds of advanced weaponry it will send to Ukraine to bolster its air defenses against what has been an increasing barrage of Russian missiles in recent weeks. The package will include about $1 billion in weapons from Pentagon stocks and $800 million in funding through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, officials said. The decision to send the Patriot battery comes despite threats from Russia’s Foreign Ministry that the delivery of the advanced surface-to-air missile system would be considered a provocative step and that the Patriot and any crews accompanying it would be a legitimate target for Moscow’s military. It’s not clear exactly when the Patriot would arrive on the front lines in Ukraine, since U.S. troops will have to train Ukrainian forces on how to use the high-tech system. The training could take several weeks, and is expected to be done in Germany. To date, all training of Ukraine’s forces by the U.S. and its Western allies has taken place in European countries. Also included in the package will be an undisclosed number of Joint Direct Attack Munitions kits, or JDAMs. The kits will be used to modify massive bombs by adding tail fins and precision navigation systems so that rather than being simply dropped from a fighter jet onto a target, they can be released and guided to a target. The visit comes at an important moment as the White House braces for greater resistance from a Republican-controlled House that’s signaled it will put more scrutiny on aid for Ukraine in the new Congress. GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has said his party’s lawmakers will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine. Biden and Zelenskyy frequently have held phone calls in coordination with the White House announcing new tranches of military assistance for Ukraine. The calls have been mostly warm, with Biden praising Ukraine for remaining steadfast against the Russians and Zelenskyy thanking the U.S. president for support. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who visited Zelenskyy earlier this year in Kyiv, encouraged lawmakers to be on hand for Wednesday evening’s session. “We are ending a very special session of the 117th Congress with legislation that makes progress for the American people as well as support for our Democracy,” Pelosi wrote Tuesday in a letter to colleagues. “Please be present for a very special focus on Democracy Wednesday night.” Read: Dead boy pulled from rubble of latest Russian hit on Ukraine Later at the Capitol, Pelosi said of Ukrainians, “They are fighting for democracy for all of us.” For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday hailed the “courage and self-denial” of his forces in Ukraine — but he did so at a ceremony in an opulent and glittering hall at the Kremlin in Moscow, not on the battlefield. Mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a shadowy Russian military contractor, are reported to be leading the charge in Bakhmut. Unverified videos on a popular Russian social media platform showed the Wagner Group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, standing near an artillery piece and saying he was ready to meet Zelenskyy in Bakhmut. At the Kremlin ceremony, Putin presented awards to the Moscow-appointed heads of the four illegally annexed regions of Ukraine. “Our country has often faced challenges and defended its sovereignty,” Putin said. “Now Russia is again facing such a challenge. Soldiers, officers and volunteers are showing outstanding examples of courage and self-denial on the front line.” In a video address honoring Russia’s military and security agencies, he praised the security personnel deployed to the four regions, saying that “people living there, Russian citizens, count on being protected by you.” Putin acknowledged the challenges faced by the security personnel. “Yes, it’s difficult for you,” he said, adding that the situation in the regions is “extremely difficult.” British authorities, meanwhile, gave a bleak assessment of how the war is going for Russia. Some 100,000 Russian troops were “dead, injured or have deserted” in the invasion, U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said. Wallace didn’t give a figure for Ukrainian casualties, but the U.S. military recently put the estimated number of Ukrainian troops killed and wounded at about 100,000. Losses in Russia’s military command have also taken a toll, as has the destruction of equipment. “Not one single operational commander then in place on Feb. 24 is in charge now,” Wallace told lawmakers in the House of Commons. “Russia has lost significant numbers of generals and commanding officers.” “Russian capability has been severely hampered by the destruction of more than 4,500 armored and protected vehicles, as well as more than 140 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft,” Wallace said. Ukraine’s counteroffensive has succeeded in recapturing large swaths of land. After 300 days of war, the U.K. Ministry of Defense tweeted, Ukraine has liberated about 54% of the maximum amount of extra territory Russia seized in the invasion. It didn’t say what portion of Ukrainian territory Russia controlled at the peak of its gains. Russia now controls about 18% of internationally recognized areas of Ukraine, including those parts of the eastern Donbas and the Crimean Peninsula seized in 2014. With the fighting in the east at a stalemate, Moscow has used missiles and drones to attack Ukraine’s power equipment, hoping to leave people without electricity as freezing weather sets in. Life in the Ukrainian capital took a minor but welcomed step toward normality with the reopening of two of Kyiv’s main subway stations for the first time since the war began. The key hubs of Maidan Nezalezhnosti and Khreschatyk, like the capital’s other underground stations, have served as air raid shelters. “It’s the feeling that despite everything, we are returning to a routine that we were used to,” said 24-year-old passenger Denys Kapustin. “This is very important.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged New Zealand to take a leading role in focusing on the environmental destruction his country is suffering as a result of Russia’s invasion. Zelenskyy delivered his message via video link to lawmakers who packed the debating chamber at 8 a.m. Wednesday. He became just the second foreign leader to address New Zealand’s parliament, after Australia’s Julia Gillard did so in 2011. Zelenskyy said it was possible to rebuild a nation’s economy and infrastructure, even though it may take many years. “But you can’t rebuild destroyed nature, just as you can’t restore destroyed lives,” he said. Read: Ukraine president again presses West for advanced weapons Zelenskyy is pushing for a 10-point peace plan that, as well as environmental protection, including items such as nuclear safety and justice. He has been asking various countries to take a lead on different points. He said some of the environmental effects of the war included poisoned groundwater, ravaged forests, flooded coal mines and huge areas of Ukraine that remain contaminated from unexploded mines. Zelenskyy thanked New Zealand for their contributions to Ukraine’s war effort so far and offered a message of hope. “Various dictators and aggressors, they always fail to realize the strength of the free world’s governments,” he said. New Zealand announced it was providing another 3 million New Zealand dollars ($2 million) in humanitarian aid through the International Committee of the Red Cross, adding to the NZ$8 million it had already provided. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Zelenskyy her country’s support for Ukraine wasn’t determined by geography or diplomatic ties. Read: ‘I’ll kill you all’: Man kills 3 in Rome condo board meeting “Our judgment was a simple one,” she said. “We asked ourselves the question, ‘What if it was us?’” She said that in such a scenario, New Zealand would want nations in the international community to use their voices, “regardless of their political systems, their distance, or their size.” Lawmakers finished the address by singing a World War II-era song in the Indigenous Māori language.
Ukraine’s president implored the world Wednesday to punish Russia for its invasion, even as the leader vowed his forces would win back every inch of territory despite Moscow’s decision to redouble its war effort. In a much-anticipated video address to the U.N. General Assembly hours after Russia announced it would mobilize some reservists, Volodymyr Zelenskyy portrayed the declaration as evidence the Kremlin wasn’t ready to negotiate an end to the war — but insisted his country would prevail anyway. “We can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory. We can do it with the force of arms,” the president said. “But we need time.” Putin’s decree Wednesday about the mobilization was sparse on details. Officials said as many as 300,000 reservists could be tapped. It was apparently an effort to seize momentum after a Ukrainian counteroffensive this month retook swaths of territory that Russians had held. But the first such call-up in Russia since World War II also brought the fighting home in a new way for Russians and risked fanning domestic anxiety and antipathy toward the war. Shortly after Putin’s announcement, flights out of the country rapidly filled up, and more than 1,000 people were arrested at rare antiwar demonstrations across the country. A day earlier, Russian-controlled parts of eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans for referendums on becoming parts of Russia. Ukrainian leaders and their Western allies consider the votes illegitimate. Zelenskyy didn’t discuss the developments in detail. But he suggested that any Russian talk of negotiations was only a delaying tactic, and that Moscow’s actions speak louder than its words. “They talk about the talks but announce military mobilization. They talk about the talks but announce pseudo-referendums in the occupied territories of Ukraine,” he said. Russia hasn’t yet had its turn to speak at the gathering. Putin, who is not attending the event, has said he sent his armed forces into Ukraine because of risks to his country’s security from what he considers a hostile government in Kyiv; to liberate Russians living in Ukraine — especially its eastern Donbas region — from what he views as the Ukrainian government’s oppression; and to restore what he considers to be Russia’s historical territorial claims on the country. Zelenskyy’s speech was striking not only for its contents but also its context. It took place after the extraordinary mobilization announcement. It was the first time he addressed the world’s leaders gathered together since Russia invaded in February. It wasn’t delivered at the august rostrum where other presidents, prime ministers and monarchs speak — but instead by video from a nation at war after Zelenskyy was granted special permission to not come in person. He appeared as he has in many previous video appearances — in an olive green T-shirt. He sat at a table with a Ukrainian flag behind his right shoulder and large image of the U.N. flag and Ukraine’s behind his left shoulder. Zelenskyy’s speech was one of the most keenly anticipated at international diplomacy’s most prominent annual gathering, which has dwelled this year on the war in his country. Officials from many countries are trying to prevent the conflict from spreading and to restore peace in Europe — though diplomats do not expect any breakthroughs this week. Still, the topic popped up in speeches by leaders from all over the world. Overwhelmingly, the sentiment was similar: Russia’s invasion was not consistent with the cornerstone principles of the United Nations — including peace, dialogue and respect for sovereignty. “It’s an attack on this very institution where we find ourselves today,” said Moldovan President President Maia Sandu, whose country borders Ukraine. U.S. President Joe Biden’s address, too, focused heavily on the war in Ukraine. “This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, plain and simple, and Ukraine’s right to exist as a people. Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should make your blood run cold,” he said. “If nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences, then we put at risk everything this very institution stands for. Everything.” Zelenskky opined that Moscow wants to spend the winter preparing its forces in Ukraine for a new offensive, or at least preparing fortifications while mobilizing more troops in the largest military conflict in Europe since the Second World War. “Russia wants war. It’s true. But Russia will not be able to stop the course of history,” he said, declaring that “mankind and the international law are stronger” than what he called a “terrorist state.” Laying out various “preconditions for peace” in Ukraine that sometimes reached into broader prescriptions for improving the global order, he urged world leaders to strip Russia of its vote in international institutions and U.N. Security Council veto, saying that aggressors need to be punished and isolated. The fighting has already prompted some moves against Russia in U.N. bodies, particularly after Moscow vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have demanded a stop to its attack on Ukraine days after it began. The veto galled a number of other countries and led to action in the broader General Assembly, where resolutions aren’t binding but there are no vetoes. The assembly voted overwhelmingly in March to deplore Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, call for an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of all Russian forces, and urge protection for millions of civilians. The next month, members agreed by a smaller margin to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council. Despite the attention he drew, Zelenskyy was just one of dozens of leaders speaking Wednesday — among them Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Kenya’s newly elected president, William Ruto. Nearly 150 heads of state and government are set to appear during six days of speeches. It also wasn’t the first time the Ukrainian leader has been in the spotlight at the assembly’s annual meeting. Also read: US, Iran to speak at UN; Zelenskyy to appear from Ukraine His 2019 debut speech came as Zelenskyy suddenly found himself embroiled in a political scandal that was absorbing the U.S. — then-President Donald Trump’s effort to get the Ukrainian to investigate his eventual rival Biden and his son Hunter. Zelenskyy steered clear of the affair in his speech that year, but he was barraged with questions about it at a news conference with Trump. The episode ultimately led to Trump’s first impeachment. At last year’s General Assembly, Zelenskyy memorably compared the U.N. to “a retired superhero who’s long forgotten how great they once were” as he repeated appeals for action to confront Russia over its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and its support for the separatists.
As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells it, when Russia invaded 100 days ago, no one expected his country to survive. World leaders advised him to flee. “But they didn’t know us,” he said in a late-night video address in April when the war hit its 50th day. “And they didn’t know how brave Ukrainians are, how much we value freedom.” He could have been speaking about himself. No one knew how a 44-year-old man who had catapulted himself from the world of entertainment into the presidency would respond to an invasion by Russia’s giant army. His response has been forceful — and compellingly public. Zelenskyy has led his country in mounting an unexpectedly fierce resistance. Every night, he rallies Ukrainians to the fight with a video address on social media. There have been 100 so far – one for each day of the war — in nightly reminders that he has not fled, that Ukraine has indeed survived. His actor-trained voice can be soothing, a deep, confidential almost-whisper as he looks directly into the camera. Or forceful, rising in moral outrage as he condemns the most recent Russian atrocities and insists that those responsible will be punished. As the days and weeks have ticked by, his unshaven face has grown a dark beard. He has lost his boyish looks. The puffiness from sleepless nights as Russian troops marched on the capital was replaced by new resolve when the invasion stalled. From the start of the war he has dressed in various shades of army green, appearing most often in a simple T-shirt. The impression he leaves is clear: He's fresh from the fight and about to get back to it. READ: Ukraine, Russia battle in the east as Zelenskyy visits front A tireless and skilled communicator, Zelenskyy has spoken by video link to the United Nations, British Parliament, U.S. Congress and about two dozen other parliaments around the world, as well as to the Cannes Film Festival and America's Grammy Awards. Rarely if ever has a man without a tie addressed so many VIPs. He also has given interviews to journalists. He held a news conference in the safety of the Kyiv subway. But his nightly video address has been his favored channel for informing and inspiring his fellow citizens. He often begins with an exuberant greeting to Ukrainians as “the free people of a brave country” or “the invincible people of our great country.” He invariably ends with a defiant “Glory to Ukraine.” He tells them of the world leaders he has spoken with during the day and his efforts to get those leaders to send more and better weapons, to inflict ever more punishing sanctions on Russia. He speaks to his fellow Ukrainians' anger and pain from the devastation of the country, the untold deaths. “My heart breaks from what Russia is doing to our people,” he said on March 16 after Russian bombs killed hundreds sheltering in a theater in Mariupol. He salutes their courage and says he never gets tired of thanking all those fighting to determine the future of Ukraine. That the country did not fall within days as Russia expected, he said on April 14, was because millions of Ukrainians “made the most important decision of their life – to fight.” He also has tried to reach a Russian audience, as on April 1 when he switched from Ukrainian into Russian to urge Russians to keep their sons away from the war. “We do not need new dead people here,” he said. “Take care of your children so they do not become villains, do not send them to the army. Do whatever you can to keep them alive. At home.” In his video address Friday on the war's 100th day, Zelenskyy said many words and numbers are now associated with the war, but “there are three words for which we have been fighting for 100 days after eight years: ‘peace,’ ‘victory,’ ‘Ukraine.’ Glory to Ukraine!” In justifying the Feb. 24 invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was saving Ukraine from the “drug addicts and neo-Nazis” of Zelenskyy’s government. He has since ignored Zelenskyy’s calls for a meeting. Back in June 2019, shortly after Zelenskyy was elected president, Putin was asked why he hadn’t congratulated the new Ukrainian leader. In a condescending response, Putin seemed to write off the actor-turned-president. “Well, it’s one thing to play someone and another to be someone,” Putin said. “The important thing is to have the courage and the character to take responsibility. He hasn’t shown his character yet.” For 100 nights, that character has been shown to Ukrainians and the world. And to Putin.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is set to meet separately with the presidents of Russia and Ukraine next week to make urgent, face-to-face pleas for peace, the world body said Friday. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Guterres is to meet Tuesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and that Putin will also host the U.N. chief. The U.N. later said that Guterres will head Thursday to Ukraine to see President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. In both visits, Guterres aims to discuss “steps that can be taken right now” to stop the fighting and help people get to safety, U.N. spokesperson Eri Kaneko said. Also Read: Satellite photos show possible mass graves near Mariupol “He hopes to talk about what can be done to bring peace to Ukraine urgently,” she said. Guterres had asked Tuesday to meet with the presidents in their respective capitals. Guterres has urged Russia to stop its attack since it began two months ago, in what he called “the saddest moment” in his five years in the U.N.’s top job. He appealed Tuesday for a four-day “humanitarian pause” in fighting leading up to Sunday’s Orthodox Easter holiday. “Stop the bloodshed and destruction. Open a window for dialogue and peace,” he implored. Guterres sent the U.N.’s top humanitarian official to Moscow and Kyiv earlier this month to explore the possibilities of a cease-fire. But the secretary-general had faced questions about whether he himself should travel to press for peace. In a recent letter, former U.N. officials called on him to step up his personal, public involvement. Whatever overtures may have been made privately, the now-planned trip “is a visible symbol of what the United Nations is supposed to be standing for, which is peace and security,” one of the letter-writers, former U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman, said by phone Friday. “I don’t think any of us should have exaggerated expectations about what the secretary-general will be able to accomplish, but he has significant moral power,” said Feltman, now a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “It’s important that the secretary-general have these conversations.” Also Read: Zelenskyy gets John F. Kennedy award for defending democracy Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon went to Moscow and Kyiv in March 2014 to try to foster talks and diplomacy as Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia is targeting all of Europe with its aggression, and that stopping the invasion of Ukraine is essential for the security of all democracies. In his late night address to Ukrainians on Saturday, Zelenskyy said that Russian aggression "was not intended to be limited to Ukraine alone” and the “entire European project is a target for Russia.” “That is why it is not just the moral duty of all democracies, all the forces of Europe, to support Ukraine’s desire for peace," he said. ”This is, in fact, a strategy of defense for every civilized state." His address came as civilians continued to flee eastern parts of the country before an expected onslaught and firefighters searched for survivors in a northern town no longer occupied by Russian forces. Several European leaders have made efforts to show solidarity with the battle-scarred nation. Zelenskyy thanked the leaders of Britain and Austria for their visits Saturday to Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, and pledges of further support. He also thanked the European Commission president and Canada's prime minister for a global fundraising event that brought in more than 10 billion euros ($11 billion) for Ukrainians who have fled their homes. Zelenskyy repeated his call for a complete embargo on Russian oil and gas, which he called the sources of Russia’s “self-confidence and impunity.” “Freedom does not have time to wait,” Zelenskyy said. "When tyranny begins its aggression against everything that keeps the peace in Europe, action must be taken immediately." More than six weeks after the invasion began, Russia has pulled its troops from the northern part of the country, around Kyiv, and refocused on the Donbas region in the east. Western military analysts said an arc of territory in eastern Ukraine was under Russian control, from Kharkiv — Ukraine’s second-largest city — in the north to Kherson in the south. But counterattacks are threatening Russian control of Kherson, according to the Western assessments, and Ukrainian forces are repelling Russian assaults elsewhere in the Donbas, a largely Russian-speaking and industrial region. Civilians were evacuating eastern Ukraine following a missile strike Friday that killed at least 52 people and wounded more than 100 at a train station where thousands clamored to leave. Ukrainian authorities have called on civilians to get out ahead of an imminent, stepped-up offensive by Russian forces in the east. With trains not running out of Kramatorsk on Saturday, panicked residents boarded buses or looked for other ways to leave, fearing the kind of unrelenting assaults and occupations by Russian invaders that brought food shortages, demolished buildings and death to other cities. “It was terrifying. The horror, the horror,” one resident told British broadcaster Sky, recalling Friday’s attack on the train station. “Heaven forbid, to live through this again. No, I don’t want to.” Ukraine’s state railway company said residents of Kramatorsk and other parts of the Donbas could flee through other train stations. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 10 evacuation corridors were planned for Saturday. Zelenskyy called the train station attack the latest example of war crimes by Russian forces and said it should motivate the West to do more to help his country defend itself. Russia denied responsibility and accused Ukraine’s military of firing on the station to turn blame for civilian casualties on Moscow. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman detailed the missile’s trajectory and Ukrainian troop positions to bolster the argument. Major Gen. Igor Konashenkov alleged Ukraine’s security services were preparing a “cynical staged” media operation in Irpin, another town near Kyiv, intended to attribute civilian casualties to Russian forces — falsely, he said — and to stage the slaying of a fake Russian intelligence team that intended to kill witnesses. The claims could not be independently verified. Western experts and Ukrainian authorities insisted that Russia attacked the station. Remnants of the rocket had the words “For the children” in Russian painted on it. The phrasing seemed to suggest the missile was sent to avenge the loss or subjugation of children, although its exact meaning remained unclear. Ukrainian authorities have worked to identify victims and document possible war crimes in the north. The mayor of Bucha, a town near Kyiv where graphic evidence of civilian slayings emerged after Russian forces withdrew, said search teams were still finding bodies of people shot at close range in yards, parks and city squares. READ: Ukraine war: Does UN really matter? Workers unearthed 67 corpses Friday from a mass grave near a church, according to Ukraine's prosecutor general. Russia has falsely claimed that the scenes in Bucha were staged. Ukrainian and Western officials have repeatedly accused Russian forces of committing atrocities. A total of 176 children have been killed, while 324 more have been wounded, the Prosecutor General’s Office said Saturday. In an interview with The Associated Press inside his heavily guarded presidential office complex, Zelenskyy said he is committed to negotiating a diplomatic end to the war even though Russia has “tortured” Ukraine. He also acknowledged that peace likely will not come quickly. Talks so far have not included Russian President Vladimir Putin or other top officials. “We have to fight, but fight for life. You can’t fight for dust when there is nothing and no people. That’s why it is important to stop this war,” he said. Ukrainian authorities have said they expect to find more mass killings once they reach the southern port city of Mariupol, which is also in the Donbas and has been subjected to a monthlong blockade and intense fighting. The city’s location on the Sea of Azov is critical to establishing a land bridge from the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine eight years ago. As journalists who had been largely absent from the city began to trickle back in, new images emerged of the devastation from an airstrike on a theater last month that reportedly killed hundreds of civilians seeking shelter. Ukrainian officials have pleaded with Western powers almost daily to send more arms and further punish Moscow with sanctions, including the exclusion of Russian banks from the global financial system and a total EU embargo on Russian gas and oil. During his visit Saturday, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said he expects more EU sanctions against Russia, but defended his country’s opposition so far to cutting off deliveries of Russian gas. A package of sanctions imposed this week “won’t be the last one,” the chancellor said, acknowledging that “as long as people are dying, every sanction is still insufficient.” Austria is militarily neutral and not a member of NATO. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's visit came a day after the U.K. pledged an additional 100 million pounds ($130 million) in high-grade military equipment. Johnson also confirmed further economic support, guaranteeing an additional $500 million in World Bank lending to Ukraine, taking Britain’s total loan guarantee to up to $1 billion. In the interview with AP, Zelenskyy noted the increased support but expressed frustration when asked if weapons and equipment Ukraine has received from the West is sufficient to shift the war’s outcome. “Not yet,” he said, switching to English for emphasis. “Of course it’s not enough.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Russians of gruesome atrocities in Ukraine and told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that those responsible should immediately be brought up on war crimes charges in front of a tribunal like the one established at Nuremberg after World War II. Over the past few days, grisly images of what appeared to be intentional killings of civilians carried out by Russian forces in Bucha and other towns before they withdrew from the outskirts of Kyiv have caused a global outcry and led Western nations to expel scores of Moscow’s diplomats and propose further sanctions, including a ban on coal imports from Russia. Zelenskyy, speaking via video from Ukraine to U.N. diplomats, said that civilians had been tortured, shot in the back of the head, thrown down wells, blown up with grenades in their apartments and crushed to death by tanks while in cars. “They cut off limbs, cut their throats. Women were raped and killed in front of their children,” he said. He asserted that people’s tongues were pulled out “only because their aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them.” Zelenskyy said that both those who carried out the killings and those who gave the orders “must be brought to justice immediately for war crimes” in front of a tribunal similar to what was used in postwar Germany. Read: Ukraine says Russia preparing offensive in southeast Moscow’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said that while Bucha was under Russian control, “not a single local person has suffered from any violent action.” Reiterating what the Kremlin has contended for days, he said that video footage of bodies in the streets was “a crude forgery” staged by the Ukrainians. “You only saw what they showed you,” he said. “The only ones who would fall for this are Western dilettantes.” As Zelenskyy spoke to the diplomats, survivors of the monthlong Russian occupation took investigators to body after body of townspeople allegedly shot down by troops. Others simply surveyed the destruction. In Borodyanka, northwest of Kyiv, 25-year-old, Dmitriy Yevtushkov searched the rubble of apartment buildings and found that only a photo album remained from his family’s home. In the besieged southern city of Mykolaiv, a passerby stopped briefly to look at the bright blossoms of a shattered flower stand lying among bloodstains, the legacy of a Russian shell that killed nine. The onlooker sketched out the sign of the cross in the air, and moved on. Associated Press journalists in Bucha have counted dozens of corpses in civilian clothes and interviewed Ukrainians who told of witnessing atrocities. Also, high-resolution satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed that many of the bodies had been lying in the open for weeks, during the time that Russian forces were in the town.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy planned to speak Tuesday to U.N. Security Council diplomats outraged by growing evidence that Russian forces have deliberated killed civilians, many of them shot in yards, streets and homes, and their bodies left in the open. The withdrawal of Russian troops from towns around Ukraine’s capital revealed the corpses, which led to calls for tougher sanctions against the Kremlin, especially a cutoff of fuel imports from Russia. Germany and France reacted by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, suggesting they were spies. U.S. President Joe Biden said Russian leader Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes. “This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous,” Biden said, referring to the town northwest of the capital that was the scene of some of the horrors. The discovery of bodies in Bucha was expected to be “front and center” at the Security Council session, said Barbara Woodward, the U.N. ambassador for the United Kingdom, which currently holds the council presidency. Associated Press journalists in Bucha counted dozens of corpses in civilian clothes and apparently without weapons, many shot at close range, and some with their hands bound or their flesh burned. Read: Russia faces global outrage over bodies in Ukraine’s streets After touring neighborhoods of Bucha and speaking to hungry survivors lining up for bread, Zelenskyy pledged in a video address that Ukraine would work with the European Union and the International Criminal Court to identify Russian fighters involved in any atrocities. “The time will come when every Russian will learn the whole truth about who among their fellow citizens killed, who gave orders, who turned a blind eye to the murders,” he said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the scenes outside Kyiv as a “stage-managed anti-Russian provocation.” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the images contained “signs of video forgery and various fakes.” Russia has similarly rejected previous allegations of atrocities as fabrications on Ukraine’s part. Ukrainian officials said the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in towns around Kyiv that were recaptured from Russian forces in recent days. The Ukrainian prosecutor-general’s office described one room discovered in Bucha as a “torture chamber.” In a statement, it said the bodies of five men with their hands bound were found in the basement of a children’s sanatorium where civilians were tortured and killed. The bodies seen by AP journalists in Bucha included at least 13 in and around a building that local people said Russian troops used as a base. Three other bodies were found in a stairwell, and a group of six were burned together. The dead witnessed by the news agency’s journalists also included bodies wrapped in black plastic, piled on one end of a mass grave in a Bucha churchyard. Many of those victims had been shot in cars or killed in explosions trying to flee the city. With the morgue full and the cemetery impossible to reach, the churchyard was the only place to keep the dead, Father Andrii Galavin said. Tanya Nedashkivs’ka said she buried her husband in a garden outside their apartment building after he was detained by Russian troops. His body was one of those left heaped in a stairwell. “Please, I am begging you, do something!” she said. “It’s me talking, a Ukrainian woman, a Ukrainian woman, a mother of two kids and one grandchild. For all the wives and mothers, make peace on Earth so no one ever grieves again.” Read: Ukraine’s leader asks help in Grammys video Another Bucha resident, Volodymyr Pilhutskyi, said his neighbor Pavlo Vlasenko was taken away by Russian soldiers because the military-style pants he was wearing and the uniforms that Vlasenko said belonged to his security guard son appeared suspicious. When Vlasenko’s body was later found, it had burn marks from a flamethrower, his neighbor said. Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, insisted Monday at a news conference that during the time that Bucha was under Russian control, “not a single local person has suffered from any violent action.” However, high-resolution satellite imagery by commercial provider Maxar Technologies showed that many of the bodies have been lying in the open for weeks, during the time that Russian forces were in Bucha. The New York Times first reported on the satellite images showing the dead. Western and Ukrainian leaders have accused Russia of war crimes before, and the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor has already opened an investigation. But the latest reports ratcheted up the condemnation. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the images from Bucha reveal the “unbelievable brutality of the Russian leadership and those who follow its propaganda.” And French President Emmanuel Macron said there is “clear evidence of war crimes” in Bucha that demand new punitive measures. “I’m in favor of a new round of sanctions and in particular on coal and gasoline. We need to act,” he said on France-Inter radio. Though united in outrage, the European allies appeared split on how to respond. While Poland urged Europe to quickly wean itself off Russian energy, Germany said it would stick with a gradual approach of phasing out coal and oil imports over the next several months. Russia had withdrawn many of its forces from the capital area after being thwarted in its bid to swiftly capture Kyiv. Read: Victims in California shooting remembered for warm hearts It has instead poured troops and mercenaries into the country’s east in a stepped-up bid to gain control of the Donbas, the largely Russian-speaking industrial region that includes the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, which has seen some of the heaviest fighting and worst suffering of the war. About two-thirds of the Russian troops around Kyiv have left and are either in Belarus or on their way there, probably getting more supplies and reinforcements, said a senior U.S. defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence assessment. More than 1,500 civilians were able to escape Mariupol on Monday, using the dwindling number of private vehicles available to get out, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said. But amid the fighting, a Red Cross-accompanied convoy of buses that has been thwarted for days on end in a bid to deliver supplies and evacuate residents was again unable to get inside the city, Vereshchuk said. Elsewhere, Russian shelling killed 11 people in the southern city of Mykolaiv, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said in a video message on social media. Zelenskyy appealed for more weaponry as Russia prepares new offensives. “If we had already got what we needed — all these planes, tanks, artillery, anti-missile and anti-ship weapons — we could have saved thousands of people,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces not only blocked a humanitarian convoy trying to reach besieged Mariupol with desperately needed supplies on Tuesday but took captive some of the rescue workers and bus drivers. He said the Russians had agreed to the route ahead of time. “We are trying to organize stable humanitarian corridors for Mariupol residents, but almost all of our attempts, unfortunately, are foiled by the Russian occupiers, by shelling, or deliberate terror,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday he was prepared to discuss a commitment from Ukraine not to seek NATO membership in exchange for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and a guarantee of Ukraine’s security. Also read: Russia demands Mariupol lay down arms but Ukraine says no “It’s a compromise for everyone: for the West, which doesn’t know what to do with us with regard to NATO, for Ukraine, which wants security guarantees, and for Russia, which doesn’t want further NATO expansion,” Zelenskyy said late Monday in an interview with Ukrainian television channels. He also repeated his call for direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Unless he meets with Putin, it is impossible to understand whether Russia even wants to stop the war, Zelenskyy said. Also read: 'No city anymore': Mariupol survivors take train to safety Zelenskyy said that Kyiv will be ready to discuss the status of Crimea and the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists after a cease-fire and steps toward providing security guarantees.