Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he is prepared to pledge that Ukraine wouldn’t join NATO, in a bid to broker a peace deal with Russia. He said he would still demand complete withdrawal of Russian forces from his country and international commitments to Ukraine’s security. Meanwhile, the Kremlin said talks with Ukraine are moving “much more slowly and less substantively than we would like,” according to Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov in his daily call with reporters. In other news as the war continued into its fourth week, Ukraine said it retook Makariv, a strategically important suburb of Kyiv, even as Russian forces squeezed other areas near the capital and pressed their attack on the embattled southern port of Mariupol.
Lavrov warning about ‘direct clash’ with NATO
Russian Foreign Minister Sergeĭ Lavrov warned that if NATO sends peacekeepers into Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, that will lead to a direct military clash between the Russian forces and the alliance. According to the Russian state-news agency TASS, Lavrov said Wednesday morning, “Sending NATO peacekeepers to Ukraine would lead to a direct clash between the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the alliance.” US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Sunday ruled out the possibility of the US taking part in peacekeeping operations inside Ukraine, stating that the Biden administration will not send US troops to the country. Thomas-Greenfield said, “We don’t want to escalate this into a war with the United States. But we will support our NATO allies,” she added.
‘NATO peacemakers to Ukraine’
Fox News reports Polish outlet onet.pl reportedly gained access to a secret project at Poland’s Ministry of National Defense, aiming to deploy peacekeepers from a number of NATO countries to Ukraine. Warsaw is expected to officially present it at the NATO summit tomorrow. The US will not participate but may agree to a mission involving some other countries.
Zelensky updates ahead of NATO, EU summits
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a statement ahead of this week’s NATO and G7 summits. “As of today, there are about a 100,000 people in the city (Mariupol) in inhumane conditions. In a complete blockade. No food, no water, no medicine. Under constant shelling, under constant bombing,” he said. “For more than a week now we have been trying to organise stable humanitarian corridors for Mariupol residents. And almost all our attempts, unfortunately, are disrupted by the Russian occupiers. By shelling or deliberate terror,” Zelensky added. “We continue to work at various levels to force Russia to peace. To the end of this brutal war. Ukrainian representatives are working on the negotiations, which continue virtually every day. It’s very difficult. Sometimes scandalous. But step by step we are moving forward. We will work, we will fight in any way we can. Till the end. Bravely and openly. At all these sites. With full energy.”
‘Unexpectedly fierce Ukrainian resistance’
The Russian-Ukraine conflict has dragged on for a month as Russia’s superior troop numbers have run into unexpectedly fierce Ukrainian resistance. The battle for the southern port city of Mariupol has grown increasingly fierce, while cities like Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and its second city, Kharkiv, are effectively under siege. A satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies showed burning and destroyed apartment buildings in Mariupol. Russia has also targeted cities in the West of the country, not far from the border with Poland, where more than two million of Ukraine’s three million refugees have reportedly fled. The BBC quotes the Pentagon saying Ukrainian soldiers are successfully fighting back against invading Russian forces to reclaim ground in some parts of the country. There are reports of the Ukrainian flag being raised again in the suburb of Makariv, west of the capital Kyiv. But Russian bombardment of the southern port city of Mariupol continues unbated. About 100,000 civilians remain trapped inside the city in “inhumane conditions”, says Ukraine’s President Zelensky. A humanitarian convoy has been captured by Russian forces and Ukrainian emergency workers taken prisoner.
Russians shell Kyiv overnight – report
Russian forces have shelled the Ukrainian capital overnight and onto Wednesday morning, injuring four people, according to the Associated Press. A shopping mall, some private sector buildings and high-rises and other buildings across the districts of Sviatoshynskyi and Shevchenkivskyi were also destroyed. Russian forces have shelled the Ukrainian capital overnight. Russians also bombed a road bridge across the Desna, which connected Chernihiv with Kyiv. This bridge was used by evacuation flights from Chernihiv and humanitarian aid was delivered to the city.
Greek minister ready to escort aid to Mariupol
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said he would personally escort humanitarian aid to Mariupol in coordination with the Red Cross. Dendias said he has made a formal request to Ukrainian and Russian authorities to allow him access to the city, which has been under siege for weeks and is home to a sizable Greek population.
‘Russian soldier raped woman and threatened her child’
Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Emine Dzheppar has said a Russian soldier has killed a homeowner, raped his wife and threatened her child. “It was established that (one of) Russia’s soldiers broke into private house in one of villages, killed (an) unarmed owner and raped his wife, threatening her kid,” she tweeted, citing the prosecutor’s office of Ukraine. Dzheppar also said the soldier has been identified. It was not immediately clear where the alleged incident happened.
‘EU treaties unsuitable for the future’ – Borrell
The EU High Representative for foreign policy Josep Borell has said the crisis in Ukraine is a tectonic change in the geopolitical reality. Meeting a group of international mecdia representatives, Borell said, “We are facing this new world with an old treaty, no doubt. I am in favour of abandoning unanimity. But to go beyond unanimity you need unanimity, then a long and risky ratification process in the member countries.” The conference on the future of Europe, he added, could be the “place to address the issue.
Scholz remains opposed to an energy embargo
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said his government has not changed its position on a partial embargo (of coal and oil) from Russia to Europe. Answering reporters’ question, he said, “Europe, with her friends, has decided on the greatest sanctions that have ever been imposed against such a large country and we can see the effects, and every day it will become more dramatic. It is important, however, that the measures are sustainable.” He opined this may not be a short-lived situation, but a long conflict. “And we must all hold together. Therefore the position of the German government has not changed. This also applies to many many countries, even more dependent than Germany on Russian energy, and nobody should turn their backs.