Ukraine war: Zelenskyy warns Russia could take ‘generations’ to recover from losses

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In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, early Saturday, March 18, 2022

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for comprehensive peace talks with Moscow to stop its invasion of his homeland, without delay. In a late night video message, he said if the war continued, Russia would take generations to recover from its losses.

“I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk,” he said early on Saturday. “The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover.”

In other developments:

Zelenskyy accused Russian forces of blockading Ukraine’s largest cities to create a “humanitarian catastrophe” with the aim of persuading Ukrainians to cooperate with them. He said Russians were preventing supplies from reaching surrounded cities in the centre and southeast of the country.

“This is a totally deliberate tactic,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation, filmed outside in Kyiv, with the presidential office in the lamplight behind him.

Zelenskyy also said more than 130 survivors have been rescued from the rubble of a theatre in Mariupol, which Ukrainian authorities have accused Moscow of “knowingly” bombing on Wednesday. The president said more than 1,000 people had taken shelter there. There was no confirmation of the number of possible deaths, and rescue efforts were continuing.

The Russian army said on Friday that it had succeeded in entering and fighting in the centre of the southeastern port alongside troops from the separatist “republic” of Donetsk.

In its latest military intelligence update on Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence says the Kremlin has so far failed to achieve any of its objectives from the invasion, and has been “surprised by the scale and ferocity of Ukrainian resistance”.

Belgium decided late on Friday to postpone its exit from nuclear power, scheduled for 2025, by 10 years — due to soaring energy prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden has warned Chinese President Xi Jinping that Beijing will face stiff consequences from Washington if it provides Russia with military or economic assistance.

“China has to make a decision for themselves, about where they want to stand and how they want the history books to look at them and view their actions,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

There was no indication Biden got any assurance in return during the two-hour conversation, and a Chinese readout of the meeting appeared to lay the blame on the US for the conflict.

China’s Foreign Ministry deplored “conflict and confrontation” as “not in anyone’s interest,” but assigned no blame to Russia and said nothing of next steps.

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