Zelensky urges UK to do more to help Ukraine
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed to the UK to do more to help his country battle Russia and punish what he called a “terrorist state”. Addressing Britain’s House of Commons, and greeted by a standing ovation in a packed chamber, he struck a defiant tone that Ukraine would fight on to the end, no matter the cost. “We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets. We will not lose!” He documented the Russian invasion day by day, listing the weapons used, the civilians killed and the lack of food and water for many and called for more international sanctions on top of those already imposed on Moscow, a no-fly zone in Ukraine and for the West to recognise Russia as a “terrorist state”.
US rejects Poland’s jet offer as ‘not tenable’
The Pentagon has rejected Poland’s offer to give the US its MiG-29 fighter jets for use by Ukraine. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Poland’s proposal to deliver the jets to the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany “to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance”. He said they would continue to consult with Poland and other NATO allies about the issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents. However, he stressed, “we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one”. Warsaw’s Foreign Ministry had also urgedother NATO members that own planes of that type to do the same.
US, UK ban Russian oil
US President Joe Biden has announced a US ban on all imports of Russian oil to increase the pressure on Russia’s economy, which has come under withering pressure from sanctions and other moves by the US, the EU and other nations. The cutoff of Russian fuel into the United States could raise gasoline prices, which have hit a national average of $4.17 per gallon, and further rattle global energy markets. The United States receives less than 10% of its energy resources from Russia. In a coordinated move, Britain announced that it would phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year. And the European Commission announced that Brussels will slash by two-thirds the EU’s reliance on Russian gas in response to the war in Ukraine. Over the past week, EU officials have reached out to gas exporters such as the US, Norway, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Japan and South Korea to secure alternatives to the Russian pipelines.
More companies leave Russia
The torrent of companies leaving Russia continued as American icons Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Starbucks and McDonald’s said they would suspend operations in Russia. McDonald’s has more than 800 locations and employs tens of thousands of Russians.
More deaths reported
Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine continues at a brutal pace. The UN’s human rights agency said it has recorded 474 civilian deaths in the conflict, including 29 children. It believes the real toll is much higher. And the Pentagon said that between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian troops have been killed in the fighting. The Ukrainians claim they have killed 11,000 Russians.
New truce to evacuate civilians
Another night of bombing and for this morning, a new truce announced by the Russians to allow civilians to leave the cities. More than two million people have fled Ukraine since Russian troops entered the country nearly two weeks ago, according to the United Nations. Half of those refugees are children, says UNICEF. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, says it’s “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II”. As refugees leave for neighbouring countries, millions more are internally displaced. The UN estimates as many as four million could eventually leave.
Russia takes full control of central Zaporizhzhia
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is under the complete control of the Russian military forces. According to the Russian National Guard, quoted by the Interfax agency, about 240 people guarding the plant have laid down their weapons. Earlier, Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko announced on his Facebook page that “the Russian occupation forces had tortured the personnel of the plant”. He said the staff, held hostage for four days, were physically and psychologically exhausted.
Xi calls for ‘maximum restraint’ in Ukraine
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for “maximum restraint” in Ukraine and said China is “pained to see the flames of war reignited in Europe” in what observers see as his strongest statement to date on the conflict. Speaking at a virtual meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Xi said the three countries should jointly support peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported. He described the situation in Ukraine as “worrying” and expressed concern about the impact of sanctions on the stability of global finance, energy supplies, transportation and supply chains.
‘Go f–k yourself’ Russian ship destroyed
The Russian warship that fired on a group of Ukrainian border guards after being told to “go f–k yourself” was destroyed in battle, according to a report in London’s The Times. “We f–king hit them,” a man is heard saying on a recording of the conflict. Another man reportedly echoed the famous words of the Ukrainian soldier who defiantly resisted a Russian order to surrender a military outpost on Snake Island in the Black Sea during Day One of the invasion. “Russian warship, go f–k yourself,” the man had said. The Valisy Bykov, a corvette, was one of two Russian vessels that opened fire on Snake Island on February 24, the Times said.
Paris topless feminists protest against Putin
Femen’s group of feminists strike again – this time against Vladimir Putin, in support of Ukraine. About 50 topless activists protested in Paris, under the Eiffel Tower, to demand a stop to the Russian invasion. On their naked breasts, the demonstrators painted the Ukrainian flag and slogans such as “Glory to Ukraine”, “Stop Putin’s war” and “Criminal Putin”. On its official website, the grouprequested the EU to remain united in defence of Kiev.