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KYIV: Ukraine’s president made an impassioned plea for global street protests against Russia’s bloody month-old invasion and for democratic leaders amassed in Brussels for emergency summits on Thursday to send more advanced weaponry.

In a late-night television address from the emptied streets of the besieged capital Kyiv, a defiant but visibly tired Volodymyr Zelensky appealed in English for the world to help ensure his nation’s survival.

“The world must stop the war,” he said. “Come from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities, come in the name of peace, come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to support freedom, to support life.”

Addressing leaders of the G7, NATO and the European Union meeting in the Belgian capital, he called for a step-shift in weapons deliveries, including more advanced fighter jets, missile defence systems, tanks, armoured vehicles and anti-ship missiles.

“Freedom must be armed,” he said bluntly, as a heavily armed guard kept watch close by — a stark reminder that Zelensky’s own life, and the life of his nation, are in acute peril.

His appeal came exactly one month after Russian tanks rolled over the border, bringing a conflict that has already killed thousands of Ukrainian civilians, and thousands more soldiers on both sides. More than 10 million Ukrainians have fled their homes, as cities have faced sustained Russian bombardment from land, sea and air.

In the southern port city of Mariupol alone, 100,000 people are trapped without food, water or power and enduring fierce shelling by Russian forces.

In the city’s hospital, local officials said staff have evacuated patients to the basement, where they are treated by candlelight beside 600 to 700 other residents seeking what little safety they can.

Experts say Russia’s once-vaunted military has been bogged down by dogged resistance and has turned to long-range bombardment in the hope of breaking Ukrainian resolve.

Washington said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bombing campaign amounted to war crimes, escalating a confrontation between Moscow and the West that has rivalled the worst crises of the Cold War.

“We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “Based on information currently available, the US government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine.”

So far the conflict has not spilt over into direct military conflagration between Russia and NATO, but Ukraine’s allies fear that Moscow may up the ante with a chemical, biological or even tactical nuclear attack.

Facing mounting diplomatic and economic pressure, Putin’s regime has responded by warning Russia could use nuclear weapons if it faces an “existential threat”.

In the back-to-back Brussels summits, US President Joe Biden and other leaders are expected to bring pledges of more lethal weapons to Ukraine and more punishing sanctions for Russia’s already crisis-wracked economy.

But they will also have to weigh how to deter further Russian escalation, without risking an all-out war with Russia.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said the summit will see leaders agree to “major increases of forces” on the alliance’s eastern borders, including four new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

NATO officials believe that — armed with an arsenal of Western anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons — Ukrainian forces may have already killed as many as 15,000 Russian soldiers and wounded perhaps 30,000 to 40,000.

Putin’s regime officially puts the number of Russian fallen at under 500, and has introduced draconian censorship laws to prevent independently verified news about what it calls a “special military operation.”

Recent days have brought claims of Ukrainian forces not only repelling attacks from the much larger and much better armed Russian military, but launching counteroffensives and winning back territory around Kyiv.

Ukraine’s armed forces reported 250 aircraft flights in the last 24 hours, a marked increase from the day before.

British military intelligence said Ukraine had “probably retaken Makariv and Moschun” near the capital and “there is a realistic possibility that Ukrainian forces are now able to encircle Russian units in Bucha and Irpin.”

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SAMIR SARDANA Mar 25, 2022 06:20am
Putin cares NOT for protests or dead soldiers Russia lost 30 million in the WW. The Only solution is to stop Oil exports and sanction nations buying discounted Russian Oil. This will happen incrementally - as OPEC and US will take time to ramp up. ANYONE ASKED - WHY IS SAUDI NOT SUPPORTING UKR ? THE DEAFENING SILENCE ! dindooohindoo
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