Ukrainian Zelenskyy calls for more planes to counter Russian airstrikes – Eurasia Review

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday made a “desperate plea” to US senators to send more planes to help the country fight the Russian invasion, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Zelenskyy met virtually with more than 300 people, including senators, some House lawmakers and aides, during which Schumer promised to do everything he could “to help the administration facilitate their transfer.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met on Saturday with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in Rzeszow, on the border with Ukraine.

Blinken crossed the border, briefly touching Ukrainian soil, to meet Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba, who requested more military assistance to defeat Russia.

After the meeting with his Polish counterpart, Blinken reiterated at a press conference that the United States “will defend every square inch of NATO territory” and announced that the Biden administration was preparing to allocate 2.75 billions of additional dollars in humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees.

Blinken also praised Poland for helping hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who fled their home country, saying “the Polish people know how important it is to stand up for freedom.”

Polish Foreign Minister Rau said: “Poland will never recognize territorial changes caused by unprovoked and unlawful aggression.”

While Zelenskyy criticized NATO for not imposing a no-fly zone, Putin said in a Saturday meeting with Aeroflot workers that it would have “colossal and catastrophic consequences not only for Europe but also for the whole world”.

Additionally, Putin said he currently has no intention of declaring martial law in Russia because “martial law should only be introduced in cases where there is external aggression,” adding, ” we’re not going through that at the moment, and hopefully we’ll win.” t. »

On the ground

Ukraine says Russian forces are shelling escape routes from Mariupol, as well as the city itself, breaking a ceasefire that was due to come into effect at 7 a.m. UTC on Saturday, as the southern coastal city continued to suffer days of relentless air attacks.

“We are just being destroyed,” Mayor Vadym Boichenko said of his city of nearly 450,000 people on his Telegram channel.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a released video that “Today, March 5, starting at 10:00 a.m. Moscow time (07:00 GMT), the Russian side declares a ceasefire. fire and the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave Mariupol and Volnovakha Humanitarian corridors and exit routes have been agreed with the Ukrainian side.

Mariupol officials said they were delaying evacuation plans that called for roads to be open to car traffic for five hours, and they urged residents to take shelter.

Volnovakha, a southern town of around 21,000, has also come under attack from Russian “heavy artillery” during the temporary ceasefire, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement on Saturday. a broadcast video.

The Russian Defense Ministry, however, accused Ukrainian “nationalists” of preventing civilians from fleeing Mariupol, according to RIA, the Russian news agency. They did not cite any evidence to support these claims.

Despite its heavy shelling of Mariupol and Volnovakha, there have been fewer Russian air and artillery attacks in Ukraine in the past 24 hours compared to previous days, the British Ministry of Defense tweeted on Saturday at the 10th day. of Russia’s attack on its western neighbour.

The ministry said Ukraine continued to control the northern cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv, as well as Mariupol in the southeast. The ministry cited reports of street fighting in the northeastern city of Sumy and said ‘it is very likely that the four towns will be surrounded by Russian forces’ as they advance towards the city of Odessa, in the southwest.

Possibility of additional sanctions

Blinken said on Friday that the United States was considering additional sanctions against Russia.

“Nothing is on the table. We are assessing the sanctions every day,” he said.

The number of Ukrainians seeking refuge in other countries could reach 1.5 million by the end of the weekend, the head of the UN refugee agency said on Saturday, an increase from 1 .3 million who fled.

Amin Awad, the UN crisis coordinator for Ukraine, who is meeting with local and international officials in Ukraine, said in a statement on Saturday that efforts are underway “to urgently find operational modalities to scale up operations across the lines and from outside in conflict-affected areas.”

VOA State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching, National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin, Pentagon Correspondent Carla Babb, Istanbul Foreign Correspondent Heather Murdock, White House Correspondent Anita Powell and Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine contributed to this report.

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