NATO heads of state during an extraordinary NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, March 24, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on NATO to give one percent of their weapons to Ukraine they gathered in Brussels one month on the day since Russia launched its invasion.
“The President called on the Alliance to provide Ukraine will one percent of all their aircraft, all tanks, as well as MLRS (multiple launch rocket system), anti-ship weapons, and air defence equipment,” Zelenskyy’s office said in a statement.
“The worst thing during the war is not having clear answers to requests for help,” he added, warning that “Russia does not intend to stop on Ukraine”.
Fighting has forced millions of Ukrainians to flee their homes and more than 3.5 million to leave the country, with thousands of people killed or wounded and widespread damage in the wake of shelling and aerial bombardments.
Here are the latest developments as leaders meet in Europe to discuss the crisis.
Key updates on Thursday:
The content of the article:
- 0.1 Key updates on Thursday:
- 0.2 Residents flee fighting at Irpin near Kyiv
- 0.3 Zelenskyy invites Sweden to help rebuild Ukraine
- 1 Estonia to boost defence spending to 2.5% of GDP
- 2 US to give $1 billion in humanitarian aid, welcome 100,000 refugees
- 3 Washington, London slap sanctions on more Russian nationals
- 4 NATO leader agree reset of long-term deterrence
- 5 Chemical weapons could affect people in NATO countries: Stoltenberg
- 6 NATO to provide Ukraine with more military assistance
- 7 NATO to deploy four new battle groups
- Western leaders will meet during three summits on Thursday, with NATO, the G7 and EU all set to discuss the war in Ukraine.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded NATO give Kyiv “one per cent” of its weapons, including fighters jets, tanks and air defence equipment.Zelenskyy also called for global protests as he marked one month since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.The US and UK targeted new Russian individuals and entities with sanctions.US President Joe Biden has arrived in Brussels for meetings with western allies and will join an EU summit later in the day.NATO will bolster its eastern flank amid the war in Ukraine; it said Russian troops likely suffered up to 15,000 casualties.The UN General Assembly will vote on a resolution blaming Russia for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
Residents flee fighting at Irpin near Kyiv
Dozens of people fled fighting around Kyiv on Thursday in an area that Ukraine claims it has recaptured from Russia, said AFP journalists present at the scene.
Intense exchanges of heavy artillery could be heard from the suburb of Irpin, northwest of the capital, and columns of smoke could be seen rising in the sky.
Houses caught fire, forcing residents to leave the suburb where they had until now been able to continue to live despite the proximity of the fighting.
A depot also caught fire near residential buildings in the west of the capital, while civilians managed to take refuge behind a supermarket.
“The houses are destroyed, only the basements remain,” Leonid Markevych, a 55-year-old entrepreneur, told AFP as he left his house outside Irpin.
“Every morning, every evening, every day the Russians attack and every day our boys repel them, he added. “So we receive heavy artillery fire day and night.”
The inhabitants, including children, were transported out of Irpin in emergency vehicles before being received in a reception centre where police officers checked their papers and their belongings. They were then evacuated on board yellow buses.
The people of Irpin left with everything they could take with them, including their pets.
The advance of Russian troops on Kyiv has since been halted by Ukrainian forces in several districts.
Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said on Wednesday that “almost all of Irpin was already under the control of Ukrainian soldiers”.
“Our message to the Russians: leave our country, go home. (…) We are ready to defend every building, every street, every corner of our city. The whole city now has combat posts”, he warned.
Zelenskyy invites Sweden to help rebuild Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has invited Sweden to help rebuild his country as he marked one month of the Russian invasion during an address to Swedish parliament.
“This is a month now,” Zelenskyy said during a speech by video link Thursday. “We have not seen a destruction of this scale since World War II.”
“Just look at what the Russian army has done to our country … A month of bombings similar to what we have seen in Syria,” Zelenskyy said, adding 10 million people have been displaced.
He called on “Swedish companies and state to come rebuild” the country.
Zelenskyy, speaking through an interpreter, also raised an alarm about the possibility of Russia using nuclear and chemical weapons.
His speech was broadcast live before members of the 349-seat Riksdagen which gave him a standing ovation. (AP)
Estonia to boost defence spending to 2.5% of GDP
President Kaja Kallas made the announcement following the extraordinary meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels.
Defence expenditures are estimated to have reached about 2.29% of Estonia’s GDP last year.
The Baltic country is one of just 10 of NATO’s 30 members to have respected to 2% commitment.
US to give $1 billion in humanitarian aid, welcome 100,000 refugees
“Today, the United States is announcing that we are prepared to provide more than $1 billion (€910 million) in new funding towards humanitarian assistance for those affected by Russia’s war in Ukraine and its severe impacts around the world, including a marked rise in food insecurity, over the coming months,” the White House has announced.
“This funding will provide food, shelter, clean water, medical supplies and other forms of assistance. We are also announcing an additional $320 million (€290 million) in democracy and human rights funding to Ukraine and its neighbours,” it added.
It also announced that it will welcome 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia’s aggression.
“In particular, we are working to expand and develop new programmes with a focus on welcoming Ukrainians who have family members in the United States,” it said.
Washington, London slap sanctions on more Russian nationals
The US targeted an additional 400 people and entities:
- 328 Duma members and the Duma as an entity. Herman Gref, the head of Russia’s largest financial institution Sberbank and a Putin advisor since the 1990s. Russian elite Gennady Timchenko, his companies and his family members. 17 board members of Russian financial institution Sovcombank. 48 Large Russian defense state-owned enterprises that are part of Russia’s defense-industrial base and produce weapons that have been used in Russia’s assault against Ukraine’s people, infrastructure, and territory, including Russian Helicopters, Tactical
Meanwhile, the UK targeted 59 Russian personalities and companies and six Belarusian entities.
The companies targeted include Russian diamond giant Alrosa, private military services group Wagner, and hydroelectric power plant group Rushydro.
The list of targeted personalities includes the founder of Tinkoff Bank, Oleg Tinkov, and the influential boss of Russia’s leading bank Sberbank, Guerman Gref, as well as Polina Kovaleva, daughter of the alleged mistress of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who lives in London and whom anti-corruption activists have called on to sanction.
NATO leader agree reset of long-term deterrence
The reset will see the deployment of “substantially more forces in the eastern part of the alliance at higher alertness,” Stoltenberg said.
“In the air, we will deploy more jets and strengthen our integrated air and missile defence,” he also said, adding that there will also be more submarines and combat ships deployed.
The reset also includes plans enhancing cyber defence capabilities as well as the alliance’s preparedness and readiness for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.
More details will be provided at the NATO summit in Madrid in June.
Chemical weapons could affect people in NATO countries: Stoltenberg
The NATO chief said leaders are concerned about the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine, “partly because we see the rhetoric and we see that Russia is trying to create some kind of pretext” that it could use to “chemical and biological weapons”
“Any use of chemical weapons will completely change the nature of the conflict” and “will have widespread consequences”, he added.
“It will affect the people of Ukraine, but there’s also a risk it will have a direct effect on people living in NATO countries”
He said NATO has agreed to provide Ukraine with equipment to protect itself against chemical, biological, nuclear threats including medical support and training for contamination and crisis management.
“Our top military commander General [Tod] Wolters has activated NATO’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense elements,” he also said.
NATO to provide Ukraine with more military assistance
NATO leaders also agreed that it is of “vital importance” that they provide “even more military assistance” to Ukraine including in cyber security, Stoltenberg said.
He said the “significant military supplies” provided by NATO so far to Ukraine, including anti-tank weaponry, are “proving highly effective.”
He said leaders wanted to “ensure the conflict does not escalate further because this could be even more dangerous and even more devastating”.
NATO leaders have so far refused to provide Ukraine with fighter jets or to impose a no-fly zone over the country, arguing that it could escalate the conflict.
NATO to deploy four new battle groups
Stoltenberg told reporters that NATO leaders have agreed the creation of “four new battle groups” in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
He flagged that there are “eight multinational NATO battle groups now from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.”
Additional sources • AP, AFP