- NATO presents a plan for increased support for Ukraine and a stronger alliance.
- The Alliance approves more battlegroups in Eastern Europe.
- Stoltenberg’s tenure at NATO was extended for a year amid the war in Ukraine.
- The United States will host up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war, sources say.
- Ukraine’s presidential adviser said many Russian troops lacked the resources to go on the offensive.
Ukraine’s navy announced on Thursday that it had destroyed the Russian landing ship Orsk in the Sea of Azov, moored in the occupied Ukrainian port city of Berdyansk.
The Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine posted photos and a video on Facebook fire and heavy smoke from the port area. Russia did not immediately comment on the allegation.
Russia has held the port in southern Ukraine since February 27 – days after Russia began its invasion of the country – and the Orsk landed armored personnel carriers there on Monday for use in the attack. Moscow offensive, Russia’s Zvezda TV channel reported. Department of Defense said earlier this week.
According to the report, the Orsk was the first Russian ship to enter Berdyansk, which lies about 80 kilometers west along the coast of the besieged city of Mariupol.
When Russia launched its invasion on February 24 in the biggest European offensive since World War II, a swift overthrow of the Ukrainian government seemed likely. But a month after the fighting began, Moscow is mired in a crushing military campaign of attrition after encountering fierce Ukrainian resistance.
Zelensky calls for a global protest
In Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky called on people around the world to come together in public on Thursday to show support for his beleaguered country as he prepared to address US President Joe Biden and other leaders of NATO gathered in Brussels on the occasion of the first anniversary month of the Russian invasion. .
“Come to your squares, to your streets. Make yourself visible and heard,” Zelensky said in English in a moving video address Wednesday evening that was recorded in the dark near the presidential offices in Kyiv. “Say people matter. Freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters.”
He also urged NATO to take “serious steps” to help kyiv fight off the Russian invasion, as an unprecedented one-day trio of NATO, G7 and EU summits has begun.
“At these three summits, we will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who has sold us out and betrayed us,” Zelensky said.
Biden was expected to discuss new sanctions and how to coordinate those measures, as well as increased military aid for Ukraine, with NATO members, then talk to G7 industrialized country leaders and the European Council in a series of meetings on Thursday.
To keep the pressure on Russia, Zelensky addressed NATO members in a video address on Thursday, asking the alliance to provide “effective and unrestricted” support to Ukraine, including weapons, tanks, planes, rockets and air defense systems.
Citing a long list of weapons he called vital to his country’s survival, the Ukrainian leader asked NATO leaders for “unlimited military assistance”, telling them that Ukrainian forces are “in a gray area, between the West and Russia, defending our common community”. values.”
“It’s the scariest thing in a war – not having clear answers to requests for help,” Zelensky said.
NATO continues to impose “costs” on Russia
Opening the NATO summit, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was “committed to continuing to impose unprecedented costs on Russia, and we will strengthen Allied deterrence and defence.”
“Leaders have approved our four new battlegroups, in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. These are in addition to the four already present in the Baltic countries and Poland. We therefore have eight multinational battlegroups from NATO, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Sea,” he said. These groups usually number between 1,000 and 1,500 soldiers each.
“The Allies are also equipping Ukraine with significant military supplies, including anti-tank and air defense systems and drones, which are proving very effective.”
Stoltenberg said NATO leaders agreed to send equipment to Ukraine to help protect it against a chemical weapons attack.
“This could include detection equipment, protection and medical support, as well as training in decontamination and crisis management,” he told reporters after a meeting in Brussels.
NATO countries fear Russia’s attempt to falsely accuse them of working on chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine is part of a ruse by Moscow to create a pretext to use the weapons itself.
Shortly after the speech, NATO nations extended Stoltenberg’s term for another year to allow him to continue to lead the military alliance’s response to Russia’s aggression.
Stoltenberg was due to leave his post in September and had already been appointed head of Norway’s central bank. The Norwegian government said on Thursday that the deputy governor will be in charge until he is free to take over.
New US military aid on the way
On the eve of a meeting with Biden, European Union countries signed another 500 million euros (C$691 million) in military aid to Ukraine.
The first US shipment of a new US$800 million arms package for Ukraine will begin shipping in the coming days, a US defense official said.
The United States plans to host up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, two sources close to the project told Reuters on Thursday.
The expected announcement would coincide with the US president’s meeting with European leaders on Thursday to coordinate the Western response to the crisis.
More than 3.6 million people have fled since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, according to the United Nations.
In Przemysl, a Polish town where tens of thousands of refugees arrive every day, Nelya Kot, 66, from Chernihiv, said that a month after the war began, residents of the northern Ukrainian town drink water from the Desna River to survive.
“Today there is no water, gas or electricity (in Chernihiv),” Kot said. “People are in total isolation.”
In its latest troop casualty update, Russia said on March 2 that nearly 500 of its troops had been killed and nearly 1,600 wounded. NATO, however, estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian troops were killed – the latter figure being what Russia has lost in a decade of fighting in Afghanistan.
A senior NATO military official said the alliance’s estimate was based on information from Ukrainian authorities, what Russia has released – intentionally or not – and intelligence gathered from open sources. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with basic rules established by NATO.
Ukraine also claims to have killed six Russian generals. Russia recognizes only one dead general.
Ukraine has released little information on its own military casualties and the West has not given an estimate, but Zelensky said nearly two weeks ago that around 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed.
With his ground forces slowed down or stopped by fleeing Ukrainian units armed with Western-supplied weapons, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops are bombarding targets from a distance, falling back on the tactics they used to reduce cities in ruins in Syria and Chechnya.
A senior US defense official said on Wednesday that Russian ground forces appear to be digging in and establishing defensive positions 15 to 20 kilometers from the capital Kyiv, while making little or no progress towards the city center.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military assessments, said it appears forces are no longer trying to advance into the city and that in some areas east of Kyiv , the Ukrainian troops pushed back the Russian soldiers further.
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Instead, Russian troops appear to be prioritizing combat in the eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk in the Donbass, in what could be an effort to cut off Ukrainian troops and prevent them from moving west to defend other cities, the official said. The United States has also seen Russian vessel activity in the Sea of Azov, including what appears to be efforts to send landing ships ashore with supplies, including vehicles, the official said.
First line “virtually frozen”
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Thursday that in many areas Russian troops do not have enough resources to continue their offensive in Ukraine, which has led to a slowdown in hostilities.
“The front line is practically frozen,” he said in a televised address. “The enemy in very many areas does not have the resources to continue the offensive.”
Despite evidence to the contrary, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted in an interview with CNN on Wednesday that the military operation is proceeding “strictly according” to plans.