Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskyy urged people worldwide to demonstrate their support for his embattled country in public on Thursday. He prepared to address US Vice President Joe Biden, and other NATO leaders gathered in Brussels on the one-month anniversary of the Russian invasion.
"Come to your squares and thoroughfares. Make your presence and voice known, "Zelenskyy stated in English during an emotional video address late Wednesday near Kyiv's presidential offices. "Declare that people are important. Liberty is critical. Peace is critical. Ukraine is significant."
Zelenskyy said he would ask NATO members in a video conference to provide Ukraine with "effective and unrestricted" support, including any weapons the country requires to fend off the Russian onslaught.
Mr. Biden was scheduled to meet with NATO members to discuss new sanctions and how to coordinate them and increase military assistance to Ukraine, and then with leaders of the G7 industrialized nations and the European Council in a series of meetings on Thursday.
On the eve of a meeting with Vice President Biden, European Union member states approved an additional $550 million in military assistance to Ukraine.
According to Agence France-Presse, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin made a "big mistake" by invading Ukraine.
"President Putin has made a grave error in initiating hostilities against an independent sovereign nation. He has grossly underestimated the Ukrainian people's strength, their bravery, and their armed forces "Stoltenberg stated this in the run-up to the NATO summit.
Ukraine's navy announced Thursday that it sank the Russian ship Orsk in the Sea of Asov near Berdyansk. It released images and videos of flames and dense smoke emanating from the port area. Russia made no immediate response to the claim.
Russia has controlled the port since February 27, and the Orsk debarked armored vehicles there on Monday for use in Moscow's offensive, the Russian Defense Ministry's Zvezda TV channel reported earlier this week. According to the report, the Orsk was the first Russian warship to enter Berdyansk, located approximately 50 miles west of Mariupol.
According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the US believes that Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine and that Washington and its NATO allies will work to hold them accountable.
"We've seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities," Blinken stated. "Russia's forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, resulting in the deaths and injuries of thousands of innocent civilians. Numerous sites targeted by Russia's forces were clearly identifiable as being in use by civilians."
Russia's stock market resumed trading on a limited basis Thursday, nearly one month after prices plummeted and the market was shut down in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
A small number of stocks, including energy behemoths Gazprom and Rosneft, were traded under restrictions intended to avert a repeat of the massive selloff that occurred February 24 in anticipation of Western economic sanctions.
Russia's military continues to underperform
When Russia launched Europe's largest offensive since World War II, an immediate overthrow of Ukraine's government appeared likely. However, a month into the conflict, Moscow has become mired in a savage military campaign of attrition.
Russia reported on March 2 that nearly 500 soldiers had been killed and about 1,600 injured. NATO estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian troops have been killed; the latter figure is comparable to what Russia lost in a decade of combat in Afghanistan.
According to a senior NATO military official, the alliance's estimate is based on information from Ukrainian authorities, what Russia has intentionally or unintentionally released, and intelligence gathered from open sources. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity by NATO's ground rules.
Ukraine also asserts that it assassinated six Russian generals, and Russia acknowledges just one dead general.
Ukraine has provided scant details about its military losses, and the West has not provided an estimate. Still, Zelenskyy stated nearly two weeks ago that approximately 1,300 Ukrainian troops had been killed.
With its ground forces slowed or halted by hit-and-run Ukrainian units armed with Western-supplied weapons, Putin's forces are bombarding targets from afar, reverting to the tactics used to level cities in Syria and Chechnya.
According to a senior US defense official, Russian ground forces appear to be digging in and establishing defensive positions 9 to 12 miles outside Kyiv, the capital, while making little or no progress toward the city center.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military assessments, said it appears as though the forces have abandoned attempts to advance into the city, and Ukrainian troops have pushed Russian soldiers further away in some areas east of Kyiv.
Rather than that, Russian troops appear to be prioritizing the fight in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions of the Donbas, the official said, in an apparent attempt to isolate Ukrainian forces and prevent them from moving west to defend other cities. THE OFFICIAL SAID THAT the US has also observed Russian ships operating in the Sea of Azov, including apparent attempts to send landing ships ashore with supplies, including vehicles.
Moscow raises the nuclear specter once more.
Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov maintained that the military operation is proceeding "strictly in accordance."
Dmitry Rogozin, a senior Russian official, stated that the country's nuclear arsenal would help deter the West from intervening in Ukraine, an ominous sign that Moscow may consider using atomic weapons.
"The Russian Federation can physically destroy any aggressor or any aggressor group within minutes at any distance," Rogozin, who heads the state aerospace corporation Roscosmos and oversees missile manufacturing facilities, said. He noted in his televised remarks that Moscow's nuclear arsenal includes tactical atomic weapons intended for battlefield use and much more powerful nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles.
US officials have long warned that Russia's military doctrine contemplates a "escalate to deescalate" option involving the use of battlefield nuclear weapons to coerce the adversary into retreating in imminent defeat. Moscow has vehemently denied such plans.
Rogozin, well-known for his bluster, did not specify what actions by the West would be considered meddling, but his remarks almost certainly reflect Kremlin thinking. Putin has warned the West that attempting to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would automatically bring it into conflict with Russia. Western nations have stated that they will not establish a no-fly site to safeguard Ukraine.
In his national address, Zelenskyy noted that Ukraine has yet to receive the fighter jets or modern air-defense systems it requested. Ukraine, he added, also requires tanks and anti-ship systems.
"It has been a month of defending ourselves from attempts to destroy us, wipe us off the face of the Earth," he explained.
In Kyiv, where near-constant shelling and gunfire shook the city Wednesday as the two sides fought for control of multiple suburbs, Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported that at least 264 civilians had been killed since the war began. According to the independent Russian news outlet The Insider, Russian journalist Oksana Baulina was killed Wednesday in a shelling attack in a Kyiv neighborhood.
In the south, the encircled port city of Mariupol has endured the war's worst devastation, enduring weeks of bombardment and now street-by-street fighting. However, Ukrainian forces have prevented its fall, thwarting Moscow's apparent attempt to fully secure a land bridge connecting Russia to Crimea, which Ukraine seized in 2014.
Mariupol officials stated in their most recent update, more than a week ago, that at least 2,300 people had died, but the actual death toll is likely much higher. Airstrikes destroyed a theater and an art school where civilians sought refuge in the last week.
Zelenskyy estimated that 100,000 civilians remain in the city, which had a pre-war population of 430,000. Attempts to deliver needed food and supplies to those trapped have frequently failed.
Russian forces bombed and destroyed a bridge in the besieged northern city of Chernihiv, regional governor Viacheslav Chaus said. The bridge was used for aid deliveries and civilian evacuations.
Kateryna Mytkevich, 39, who fled Chernihiv for Poland, wiped away tears as she described the city's lack of gas, electricity, and running water and the destruction of entire neighborhoods.
"I don't understand why we have such a curse," she explained.