Ukraine seeks help as Russia seeks to divide the nation

LVV, Ukraine (AB) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky on Sunday accused the West of being cowardly, with another high-ranking official saying Russia was trying to divide the country like North and South Korea.

Zhelensky made an impassioned appeal to warplanes and tanks to help defend his country from Russian invading troops. Russia says it is now focusing on taking control of the eastern Donbass region, raising an apparent setback from its earlier, more comprehensive targets, but fears of a divided Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden spoke afterwards Russian President Vladimir Putin says in a distorted speech that he can not stay in power – words that the White House immediately tried to underestimate – Zelenskyy lashes out at the West “who ping-pong, how to hand over jets” and other weapons while Russian missile strikes kill civilians.

“I talked to Mariupol’s bodyguards Today. I am in constant contact with them. Their determination, bravery and determination are astounding, ”Zelenskyy said in a video conference, referring to the besieged southern city and the great casualties and horrors of war. “If only 1% had the courage to think for 31 days about how to hand over dozens of jets and tanks.”

Zelenskyy told independent Russian journalists on Sunday that his government would consider declaring neutrality and providing security guarantees to Russia. That includes keeping Ukraine nuclear-free, he said.

He told reporters that after the withdrawal of Russian troops, neutrality and agreeing to stay away from NATO – should be put to a vote by Ukrainian voters. He said a referendum could be held within months of the troops leaving.

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Russia soon banned the release of the interview. Roskomnadzor, which regulates communications for Moscow, issued the ban, saying action could be taken against the Russian media involved, including “foreign media acting as foreign agents.”

Although the interview was published overseas, sales outlets based in Russia appeared to comply.

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Zhelensky responded that Moscow was afraid of a relatively short conversation with journalists. According to the Ukrainian news agency RBK Ukraine, “it would be fun if it was not so sad,” he said.

At the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, participants remained silent for 30 seconds and expressed support for Ukraine.. Some wore blue and gold ribbons, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Actor Sean Benn failed to get former actor Zhelensky to speak at the ceremony.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stalled in many areas. Its purpose was to quickly encircle the capital, Kiev, and stumble against the Ukrainian opposition forcing its surrender – reinforced by the arms of the United States and other Western allies.

Moscow says it is focusing on capturing the entire eastern Donbass region, which has been partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014. A high-ranking Russian military official said Friday that troops were being diverted east from other parts of the country. .

Russia has been supporting separatist rebels in Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk since the uprising erupted shortly after Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine. In talks with Ukraine, Moscow has asked Kiev to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Kirillo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, accused Russia of trying to divide Ukraine, comparing it to North and South Korea.

“The occupiers will try to pull the occupied territories into a single semi-state structure and try to stop it against an independent Ukraine,” Budanov said in a statement issued by the Ministry of Defense. He predicted that the guerrilla war of the Ukrainians would thwart such plans.

Ukrainian envoy David Arakamiya, who is in talks with Russia over ending the war, said in a Facebook post that the countries will meet in Turkey from Monday. However, the Russians announced that talks would begin on Tuesday. The two sides have not met before and no agreement has been reached.

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Ukraine’s priorities in the talks are “sovereignty and territorial integrity”, Zelenskyy told his country in his nightly speech.

“We look forward to peace, in fact, without delay,” he said. “There is an opportunity and need for a face-to-face meeting in Turkey.”

Zelenskyy signed into law a law banning the reporting of troops and equipment movements not reported or approved by the military. Journalists violating the law could face up to three to eight years in prison. The law does not differentiate between Ukrainian and foreign correspondents.

Ukraine says the West must provide not only missiles and other military equipment but also warplanes to defeat Russia. The plan to transfer Polish aircraft to Ukraine via the United States was abandoned amid concerns that NATO would be drawn into direct fighting.

In his sharp remarks, Zhelensky accused Western governments of being “afraid to prevent this tragedy.” It is simply scary to make a decision.

His request was echoed by a priest in the western city of Lviv. Was attacked by rockets a day earlier. Airstrikes illustrate that Moscow intends to move the war eastward but is ready to strike anywhere in Ukraine.

“When diplomacy does not work, we need military support,” said Pastor Yuri Vaskiev, who said the intimidating parishioners were moving away from his Greek Catholic church.

On the way to Kiev, residents of a village went through the devastation of a series of attacks by Russia. Locals in Paishi, about 22 miles (35 km) from Kiev. They walked through buildings torn and destroyed by shells to save as much as they could, including books, shelves and framed pictures.

Standing in the kindergarten classroom, the teacher Svetlana Kripovska said that many children have been killed.

“This is not right,” Kripowska told British broadcaster Sky News. “Children are not guilty of anything.”

Russia has confirmed the use of aerial missiles to attack a fuel depot and defense plant in Liu, near the Polish border. Another bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a depot in Plymouth, west of Kiev, where Ukrainian air defense missiles were stored, said Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry.

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Russia’s successive airstrikes have shaken the city, which has become a haven for about 200,000 people fleeing bombed-out cities and towns. Pep. Lviv, which survived the bombing, is also a route for most of the 3.8 million refugees who fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion on the 24th.

In Kharkiv, Ukrainian firefighters used axes and chainsaws to dig out concrete and other debris and search for victims of Sunday’s Russian military attack on a regional administration building. A body was found Saturday, a firefighter said. The March 1 attack killed at least six people – the first time Russian forces had attacked a Kharkiv center with a population of 1.5 million.

On Sunday night, a rocket struck an oil field in northwestern Wall.

With millions of people fleeing Ukraine, the invasion has displaced more than 10 million people from their homes, almost a quarter of Ukraine’s population. Thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed.

Zelenskyy said in an interview with Russian journalists on Sunday that he would continue to talk to his troops and their families and give his troops in Mariupol the option to leave the city.

“They said, ‘We can not. There are wounded, we will not leave the wounded.'” And they said, ” We will not leave the dead. ”

Zhelensky said the bodies of Ukrainians and Russians were lying uncollected on Mariupol roads and sidewalks.

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Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv, Nephi Kena in Kiev, Kara Anna in Lviv and the Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to the report.

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