- Biden: Putin ‘cannot stay in power’
- Zelensky urges the West to hand over military equipment
- Ukraine and Russia agree on two humanitarian corridors
Lviv, Ukraine (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the West to give Ukraine tanks, planes and missiles to fend off Russian forces, as his government said Moscow’s forces were targeting the country’s fuel and food depots.
US President Joe Biden’s three-day tour of Europe ended with comments that Washington was taking a tougher stance on Russia, when he said on Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power”. Read more
A White House official said then that Biden’s impromptu remarks during a speech in Warsaw were not a call for regime change in Russia, but meant that Putin should not be allowed to wield power over his neighbors or the region. Moscow rejected Biden’s comments, saying that deciding who rules Russia is not the business of the US president.
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The Russian invasion destroyed many Ukrainian cities, caused a humanitarian crisis and forced millions to flee their homes.
In a late-night television address on Saturday, Zelensky demanded Western countries hand over military hardware that was “gathering dust” in stockpiles, saying his country needed only 1% of NATO’s planes and 1% of its tanks. Read more
Western countries have so far provided Ukraine with anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles as well as small arms and protective equipment, but no heavy armor or aircraft.
“We have already waited 31 days. Who is responsible for the Euro-Atlantic community? Is Moscow really still because of intimidation?” Zelensky said, noting that Western leaders were holding off on supplies because they were afraid of Russia.
Adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, Vadim Denisenko, said, on Sunday, that Russia has started destroying Ukrainian fuel and food storage centers, which means that the government will have to disperse their stocks in the near future.
To confirm this, the Russian Defense Ministry said that on Saturday its missiles destroyed a fuel stockpile as well as a military repair plant near the western city of Lviv, just 60 km from the Polish border. Read more
Four missiles fell on the city, sending plumes of black smoke into the sky, local officials said, in a rare blow to western Ukraine where most of the fighting since the Russian invasion on February 24 so far has focused on and around the southern and eastern regions. The capital, Kyiv, is in the north. Read more
Biden drew criticism for his comments at the end of a speech that sought to frame the war as part of a historic struggle for democratic freedoms.
“For God’s sake, this guy can’t stay in power,” said Biden, who earlier today called Putin a “butcher.”
Veteran US diplomat Richard Haass, president of the US Council on Foreign Relations a think-tank, said on Twitter that the comments were making a “dangerous situation more dangerous”.
“I suggest that his top aides reach out to their counterparts and make it clear that the United States is (ready) to engage with this Russian (government),” he wrote.
Moscow says the goals of what Putin calls a “special military operation” include disarmament and “discrediting” its neighbour. Ukraine and its Western allies describe this as a pretext for an unprovoked invasion.
Russia has failed to control any major Ukrainian city since its forces began pouring into the country on February 24.
In its latest military assessment, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russian forces appeared to be focusing their efforts on trying to encircle Ukrainian forces directly facing separatist regions in the east of the country.
“The battlefield in northern Ukraine remains largely static with local Ukrainian counterattacks hampering Russian attempts to reorganize its forces,” the ministry said.
Today, Sunday, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that Russia continues its “mass armed aggression”, while Ukrainian forces repelled seven attacks in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Denisenko, an advisor to the Interior Ministry, said Russia was bringing its troops to the border in turns and could make new attempts to advance its invasion. Moscow has repeatedly said its operations will be planned, but Western leaders say the assault has largely stalled in the face of fierce resistance.
Reuters was not able to independently verify accounts of the fighting across Ukraine.
Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said Ukraine and Russia agreed on two “humanitarian corridors” to evacuate civilians from front-line areas on Sunday, including allowing people to leave in private cars from the southern city of Mariupol.
The besieged port, which lies between Russia-annexed Crimea and eastern regions held by Russian-backed separatists, has been devastated by weeks of heavy bombardment, forcing thousands of residents to take shelter in cellars with scarce water, food, medicine or electricity.
The United Nations has confirmed 1,104 civilians killed and 1,754 wounded across Ukraine, but says the true death toll is likely to be higher. On Sunday, Ukraine said 139 children had been killed and more than 205 wounded.
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Reuters reporters in Mariupol, Natalia Zenets and Maria Starkova in Lviv, Garrett Renshaw in Warsaw and Lydia Kelly in Melbourne; Guy Faulconbridge in London Writing by Lincoln Fest and Crispian Palmer Editing by William Mallard and Frances Kerry
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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