24 March 2022

Ukraine president Zelensky urges Nato to provide ‘military assistance without limitations’

24 March 2022

Ukraine’s president has pleaded with Nato to provide his embattled nation with military assistance.

In a video address to the Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday, Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine needs “military assistance without limitations” as Russia is “using its entire arsenal” against the country.

Mr Zelensky urged Nato to provide Ukraine with “1% of all your planes, 1% of all your tanks”.

“We can’t just buy those,” Mr Zelensky added. “When we will have all this, it will give us, just like you, 100% security.”

Nato leaders are meeting in Brussels (Brendan Smialowski/AP) (AP)

Ukraine is also in dire need of multiple launch rocket systems, anti-ship weapons and air defence systems, the president said. “Is it possible to survive in such a war without this?” he asked.

Mr Zelensky said Russia used phosphorous bombs on Thursday morning, killing both adults and children.

He reminded Nato leaders that thousands of Ukrainians have died in the past month, 10 million people have left their homes, and urged Nato to give “clear answers”.

“It feels like we’re in a grey area, between the West and Russia, defending our common values,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

“This is the scariest thing during a war – not to have clear answers to requests for help.”

Mr Zelensky did not reiterate his request for a no-fly zone or ask to join Nato, according to a senior Biden administration official.

At the end of the summit, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance is stepping up its defences against chemical and nuclear weapons as concern mounts that Russia might use such weapons in Ukraine.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at a media conference (Thibault Camus/AP) (AP)

Mr Stoltenberg said that Nato leaders agreed to send equipment to Ukraine to help protect it against a chemical weapons attack.

“This could include detection equipment, protection, and medical support, as well as training for decontamination and crisis management,” he told reporters.

Mr Stoltenberg said the 30 Nato allies are also boosting their own “preparedness and readiness”.

The leaders agreed to deploy four new battlegroups, which usually number from 1,000-1,500 troops, to Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Four other battlegroups are stationed in the Baltic States and Poland.

Nato nations are concerned that Russia’s attempt to falsely accuse them of working on chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine is part of a ruse by Moscow to create a pretext for using such arms itself.

On Wednesday evening, Mr Zelensky called on people worldwide to gather in public on Thursday to show support for Ukraine.

“Come to your squares, your streets. Make yourselves visible and heard,” he said in English during an emotional video address that was recorded in the dark near the presidential offices in Kyiv. “Say that people matter. Freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters.”

Opening the emergency summit in Brussels, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is “determined to continue to impose costs on Russia to bring about the end of this brutal war”.

Russia unleashed its invasion on February 24 but instead of swiftly toppling Ukraine’s government, its forces are bogged down in a grinding military campaign and its economy is labouring under punishing international sanctions.

“This is a month now,” Mr Zelenskyy said on Thursday in an address to Sweden’s parliament, the latest of many to whom the Ukrainian leader has pleaded for help. “We have not seen a destruction of this scale since World War Two.”

After a month of fighting, Western analysts say Ukrainian forces need stocking up again with the weapons that have helped them slow and repel Russian advances.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

Both sides claimed on Thursday to have inflicted more blows. Ukraine’s navy said it sank a ship that had been used to resupply the Russian campaign with armoured vehicles.

Russia claimed to have taken a town, Izyum, in eastern Ukraine after heavy fighting.

But in many areas, Ukrainian forces appear to have battled Russian troops to a stalemate, an outcome that seemed unlikely when Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed his invasion force.

Determined to make Mr Putin change course, and under intense pressure from Mr Zelenskyy to do more, Western nations said more help is on the way for Ukraine.

European Union nations signed off on another 500 million euros in military aid.

And US President Joe Biden is expected to discuss new sanctions on Russia, along with more military aid for Ukraine, with Nato members.

He will also talk to leaders of the G7 industrialised nations and the European Council in a series of meetings on Thursday.

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