Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the West on Thursday to increase military aid to Ukraine, saying Russia would advance on the rest of Europe otherwise
At least 22 people were killed on Thursday in the wake of Russian air strikes in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region, the Ukrainian emergency services said in an online post.
It said rescue work was ongoing, without specifying where exactly the attack took place. Earlier the regional governor said at least nine people had been killed by an air strike on two schools and private houses.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the West on Thursday to increase military aid to Ukraine, saying Russia would advance on the rest of Europe otherwise.
“If you do not have the power to close the skies, then give me planes!” Zelensky told a press conference. “If we are no more then, God forbid, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia will be next,” he said, adding: “Believe me.”
He called for direct talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, saying it was “the only way to stop this war.”
“We are not attacking Russia and we do not plan to attack it. What do you want from us? Leave our land,” he said, addressing Putin.
“Sit down with me. Just not 30 metres away like with (French President Emmanuel Macron),” the Ukrainian leader said, referring to Putin receiving world leaders at a now famous enormously long table.
Zelensky – who just weeks ago sought to calm Ukrainians over US allegations that Russia was planning to invade his country — said: “Nobody thought that in the modern world a man can behave like a beast.”
Kyiv said more than 350 civilians have been killed since Putin launched the invasion.
“Any words are more important than shots,” Zelenskyy said from Kyiv as his delegation and Russian officials met in Belarus, in the Brest region that borders Poland.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters ahead of the meeting that Russia will press its military action until achieving its goals, chiefly the “demilitarization of Ukraine,” but added it will be up to Ukrainians to choose what government they should have.
Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamiya said Kyiv’s main demand in the talks would be the establishment of humanitarian corridors so civilians can get out of combat zones and reach safety.
Ukraine is also seeking a cease-fire and an armistice, Presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted with a picture of the negotiating table.
Where are the main battles?
The Russian military now says it controls Kherson, and local Ukrainian officials have confirmed that Russian forces have taken over local government headquarters in this Black Sea port of 280,000 people — the first major city to fall since the start of the war.
Ukrainian media reports said Russian troops had also entered the southern city of Enerhodar, a major energy hub on the Dnieper River that accounts for about one-quarter of the country’s power generation. It is the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the biggest in Europe. The mayor of Enerhodar said Ukrainian forces on the city’s edges are battling the Russian troops.
Heavy fighting is continuing on the outskirts of another strategic port city on the Azov Sea, Mariupol, plunging it into darkness, isolation and fear. Electricity and phone connections are largely down, and homes and shops are facing food and water shortages.
Overnight explosions heard in the capital, Kyiv, were missiles being shot down by Ukraine’s air defense systems, according to the city’s mayor. Russia’s 40-mile-long (64-kilometer-long) convoy of tanks and other vehicles remains stalled outside Kyiv, which has been struck by deadly shelling.
Russian forces have also been bombarding the country’s second-biggest city, Kharkiv.
An aide to Zelenskyy has called on compatriots to use guerrilla tactics against Russian forces, cut down trees and destroy rear columns of Russian troops.
How many refugees?
The United Nations says that 1 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian assault started. This amounts to more than 2% of Ukraine’s population, though some of those fleeing Ukraine are citizens of other countries.
The U.N. refugee agency has predicted that up to 4 million people could eventually leave Ukraine, a country with a population of 44 million.
The EU Commission says it will give temporary residence permits to refugees fleeing the violence and allow them to study and work in the 27-nation bloc. The move would need the approval of member states, which have already expressed broad support.
War’s death toll
Russia has acknowledged that nearly 500 Russian troops have been killed in the fighting so far and around 1,600 have been wounded. Ukraine has not released similar casualty figures for its armed forces.
The UN human rights office says at least 227 civilians have been killed and 525 wounded in Ukraine since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24. Ukraine’s State Emergency Service has said more than 2,000 civilians have died, though it’s impossible to verify the claim.
with inputs from agencies