Ns News Online Desk: LVIV, Ukraine- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the West of cowardice Sunday as his country fights to stave off Russia’s invading troops, making an exasperated plea for fighter jets and tanks to sustain a defense as the war ground into a battle of attrition.
Speaking after U.S. President Joe Biden said in a lacerating speech that Russian President Vladimir Putin could not stay in power — words the White House immediately sought to downplay — Zelenskyy lashed out at the West’s “ping-pong about who and how should hand over jets” and other weapons while Russian missile attacks kill and trap civilians.
“I’ve talked to the defenders of Mariupol today. I’m in constant contact with them. Their determination, heroism and firmness are astonishing,” Zelenskyy said in a video address, referring to the besieged southern city that has suffered some of the war’s greatest deprivations and horrors. “If only those who have been thinking for 31 days on how to hand over dozens of jets and tanks had 1% of their courage.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to the U. S., Oksana Markarova, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that her country had heard Biden “loud and clear.”
“Now, it’s all up to all of us to stop Putin while it’s still local in Ukraine because this war is not only about Ukraine,” she said, but “an attack on democracy.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its 32nd day, has stalled in many areas. Its aim to quickly encircle the capital, Kyiv, and force its surrender has faltered against staunch Ukrainian resistance — bolstered by weapons from the U.S. and other Western allies.
Zelenskyy signed a law Sunday that bans reporting on troop and equipment movements that haven’t been announced or approved by the military. Journalists who violate the law could face three to eight years in prison. The law does not differentiate between Ukrainian and foreign reporters.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia’s troops are trying to encircle Ukrainian forces facing the two separatist-held areas in the country’s east. That would cut the bulk of Ukraine’s military off from the rest of the country.
Moscow claims its focus is on wresting the entire eastern Donbas region, which has been partially controlled by Russia-backed separatists since 2014. A high-ranking Russian military official said Friday that troops were being redirected to the east from other parts of the country.
The leader of one separatist-controlled area of Donbas said Sunday that he wants to hold a vote on joining Russia, words that may indicate a shift in Russia’s position. Leonid Pasechnik, the head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, said it plans to hold a referendum on becoming part of Russia “in the nearest time.”