By AP, published by Denver Post, plus BBC
Washington – President Joe Biden said on Wednesday the US is sending more anti-aircraft, anti-armour weapons and drones to Ukraine to assist in its defence against Russia.
The president’s comments came as he formally announced his administration was sending an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine, making a total of $2 billion in such aid sent to Kyiv since Biden took office more than a year ago. About $1 billion in aid has been sent in just the last week.
“We’re going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead,” Biden said.
Biden spoke hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a video address to members of US Congress in which he made an impassioned plea for the US and West to provide more help to save his young democracy than world leaders have so far pledged to provide.
Zelenskyy summoned the memory of Pearl Harbour and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in appealing Wednesday to the US Congress to do more to help Ukraine’s fight against Russia, but he acknowledged the no-fly zone he has sought to “close the sky” to airstrikes on his country may not happen.
Livestreamed into the Capitol complex, Zelenskyy said the US must sanction Russian lawmakers and block imports. But rather than an enforced no-fly zone that the White House has resisted, he instead sought other military aid to stop the Russian assault.
For the first time in a public address to world leaders, he showed a packed auditorium of lawmakers a graphic video of the destruction and devastation his country has suffered in the war, along with heartbreaking scenes of civilian casualties.
“We need you right now,” Zelenskyy said. “I call on you to do more.”
Lawmakers gave him a standing ovation, before and after his short remarks, which Zelenskyy began in Ukrainian through an interpreter but then switched to English in a heartfelt appeal to help end the bloodshed.
“I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths,” he said.
Nearing the three-week mark in an ever-escalating war, Zelenskyy has used the global stage to implore allied leaders to help stop the Russian invasion of his country. The young actor-turned-president often draws from history, giving weight to what have become powerful appearances.
President Joe Biden’s administration has stopped short of providing a no-fly zone or the transfer of military jets from neighbouring Poland as the US seeks to avoid a direct confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.
Theatre with civilians inside is bombed in Mariupol – official
Serhiy Orlov, Mariupol’s deputy mayor, told the BBC that Russian bombing hit the city’s drama theatre where civilians were being sheltered.
He estimates that between 1,000 and 1,200 people were there. The number of casualties is still unknown.
Ukraine confirms deaths of 10 people in Chernihiv
Ukrainian officials have confirmed that 10 people have been killed by Russian forces in the northern city of Chernihiv.
In a statement issued by the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general, officials said that the attack took place around 10:00 local time (3 p.m. in Thailand) when “servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces fired at people standing in line for bread near a grocery store”.
It remains unclear how the 10 people were killed, but local media reporters have told the BBC that it is likely that the victims were fired upon by Russian artillery positioned outside the city.
Russia thrown out of Council of Europe
The council is Europe’s oldest political body and aims to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law across the continent.
A statement from the council’s committee of ministers said after an “extraordinary” meeting, Russia’s membership had been suspended.
The procedure to end Russia’s membership first began on 25 February – a day after President Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine, and almost exactly 26 years since Russia first joined the council.
Nato sources say Russia will probably not achieve its military goals
But they added that Russian forces still had the capacity to do “a lot of damage”.
The defence officials said that while Russian forces had made gains in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, they had still failed to encircle Kyiv – which they said Russia had expected to do in a matter of days.
An expected Russian amphibious assault in the south near Odessa had also, so far, failed to materialise.
The Nato officials believe that Russia’s original military plan had included taking all of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast – right up to Moldova.
They assessed that Russia’s invasion force was suffering from a lack of fuel and food as well as suffering losses. They said that President Putin was already looking for reinforcements.
One official said it was “highly likely” that would involve bringing in foreign fighters from Syria and private military contractors – such as the Wagner group – to Ukraine.
Another official added that Russia’s military reserves “were not a secret weapon”. He said that calling on reserve forces was “scratching the bottom of the barrel”.
Nato officials say that allies and member states are continuing to send weapons to Ukraine. They said that included old Soviet weaponry, which Ukrainian forces would have been trained to use, as well as Western supplied anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
Top: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivers a video address to senators and members of the House of Representatives gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium, at the US Capitol in Washington, on Mar. 16, 2022. Photo: Drew Angerer/Pool via Reuters and published by US News & World Report
First insert: A view of destroyed apartments damaged by shelling, in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Mar. 13, 2022. Photo: AP/Andrew Marienko via CNA
Second insert: The Council of Europe building in Strasbourg has been a focal point for anti-war demonstrations in recent days. Photo: Getty Images and published by BBC
Third insert: Russian forces have made gains in Donetsk and Luhansk, but failed in their early objective to surround Kyiv, Nato officials say. Photo: Getty Images and published by BBC
Home Page: Refugees fleeing the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine wait for hours to board a train to Poland, outside the train station in Lviv, Ukraine, on Mar 8, 2022. File photo: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach and published by CNA