Ukrainian Zelenskiy calls Russia a ‘terrorist state’ for aid bombing as forces close in on Kiev | Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Russia of being a ‘terrorist state’ after its tanks impeded the delivery of food, water and medicine to the besieged city of Mariupol, and said Moscow was capable chemical weapons attacks.
As Russian forces appeared to regroup to encircle Kiev and the United States planned to increase economic pressure on Vladimir Putin, Zelenskiy tried to rally Ukrainians with another video address on Thursday evening condemning Moscow’s relentless assault on towns.
“This is pure and simple terror…from experienced terrorists,” he said of the alleged attack on the aid convoy. “The world should know that. I have to admit – we are all dealing with a terrorist state.
“They did it deliberately, they knew what they were blowing up, they have orders to hold the city hostage, to abuse it and constantly bomb it, and bomb it.”
More than 400,000 people remain stranded in Mariupol, which is surrounded by Russian forces, and basic supplies are running out. Some 200,000 people are thought to want to leave amid a relentless Russian artillery onslaught but have been unable to do so despite the daily declaration of humanitarian corridors.
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said Russia was targeting residential areas “every 30 minutes”. At least 1,207 people have died, although the actual figure is much higher as residents cannot leave their homes to collect dead bodies from the streets.
Zelenskiy said no one was able to escape the town on Thursday, although 100,000 managed to leave other towns under fire such as Irpin, Sumy and Hostomel over the past two days.
Russia called a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday to discuss what it claims are US plans to use biological weapons in Ukraine. But Zelenskiy denied such a tactic and said the allegation showed it was Russia planning to use chemical weapons. “It makes me really worried,” Zelenskiy said, “because we’ve been convinced many times: if you want to know Russia’s plans, look at what Russia is accusing others of.”
In a potentially significant military development, satellite images released Thursday by US firm Maxar Technologies appeared to show that the large Russian military convoy last seen northwest of Kiev had widely dispersed and redeployed. Maxar said his footage showed armored units fanning out across towns and forests in the region, with artillery pieces moved to potential firing positions.
A US defense official quoted by CNN said that The Russian forces had moved 5 km (about 3 miles) closer to Kyiv, although the Ukrainians fought “very well” around the capital. British Defense Intelligence Agreed that Russia was “probably” trying to reset for an assault on Kiev.
the Ukraine’s military said in its daily operational report on Friday morning that Russian troops had dispersed to regroup and resupply.
Attacks appeared to be intensifying in western Ukraine with air raid sirens heard in Lviv, explosions reported in Lutsk and shelling in Ivano-Frankivsk. Dnipro, a major stronghold in east-central Ukraine, came under airstrikes on Friday morning, killing at least one person, state emergency services said.
The strike in Lutsk targeted an airfield according to the city’s mayor, Igor Polishchuk, who urged its citizens to take shelter in a Facebook post early Friday.
US President Joe Biden will announce further mounting economic pressure on Friday by calling for an end to normal trade relations with Russia. This measure, which should be ratified and enacted by Congress, will make Russia a pariah of the world economy like Cuba and North Korea. This could lead to higher tariffs on Russian products and will do away with what is known in international trade as “most favored nation status”.
This follows the decision by Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week to ban oil imports from Russia into their countries as they try to increase the already crippling pressure on Russia caused by its exclusion from markets. global financiers.
The price of oil slid again on Friday and is set to register its biggest weekly declines since November after seeing fears that more countries would ban Russian imports, offset by the growing prospect that other major producers could bring in more supply. .
Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell 0.67% to $108.60 at 2am GMT after falling 1.6% in the previous session. U.S. West Texas intermediate crude fell 0.13% to $105.88 a barrel, after falling 2.5% on Thursday.
Banning all US trade with Russia would aggravate the already serious economic problems facing the Putin regime.
Earlier Thursday, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, said Russia was “entering a deep recession”, with a massive depreciation of the ruble and a decline in the purchasing power of its citizens. A default was no longer “an unlikely event”, she said.
A flood of major international companies such as Apple, Shell, Ikea and McDonald’s have pulled out of Russia, but the Kremlin is threatening to retaliate by seizing company assets.
European Union leaders meeting in Versailles to discuss the Ukraine crisis said in a statement late Thursday that Russia was “inflicting untold suffering on the Ukrainian people” and called for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of forces.
They “recognized Ukraine’s European aspirations” and agreed to support Ukraine in “pursuing its European path”. They also hailed Ukraine’s courageous resistance and promised “we won’t leave them alone”.
Many Eastern European member countries such as Estonia and Lithuania have called for Ukraine to be quickly brought into the 27-member club. But the statement’s cautious language stopped short of any firm commitment and reflected the unease of Western countries like France, Spain and the Netherlands over any quick admission.
“What is important is that Ukraine has applied to become a member of the EU,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. “There is no fast-track procedure to become a member of the EU.”
Zelenskiy tried to keep the pressure on the EU, however, saying in his speech that he believed the Ukrainian people “did everything to be welcomed” into the European club.
“This is the final exam for Europe,” he said, adding that ordinary European citizens had shown their support for Ukraine by demonstrating in the streets, and that “they would definitely choose the Ukraine”.