Zelensky addresses Biden directly, asking him to be “leader of peace”Reading Time: 2 minutes
A theatre sheltering 1,200 civilians in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol was bombed on Wednesday night. An estimated 400,000 residents in the southern port city are still without running water, electricity and gas, and unable to leave. Hundreds of patients and staff are still being held captive in a hospital in Mariupol by Russian forces.
Meanwhile, Russian forces launched scattered attacks around Kyiv and a 12-storey residential building in the capital was hit by Russian shelling early on Wednesday. The BBC reports that Russian troops outside of Kharkiv have been hampered by a shortage of ammunition.
In his video address to the US Congress on Wednesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky made an appeal to lawmakers to send his country more weapons and place additional sanctions on Moscow, writes the Guardian. If a “no-fly zone” was out of the question, Zelensky said Ukraine could use more anti-aircraft systems. After playing of a video round-up of the war’s destruction in his country, Ukraine’s President spoke directly to US President Joe Biden, asking him to “be the leader of peace”.
The White House on Wednesday said it would commit USD 1 billion to send weapons to Ukrainian forces, including drones, anti-aircraft systems and anti-armour systems, as well as machine guns, shotguns, grenade launchers and 20 million rounds of ammunition, according to reporting by the BBC. Of the unprecedented amount of assistance, President Biden commented, “We’re going to stay the course and do everything we can to push for an end to this tragic, unnecessary war.”
Regarding peace talks with Ukraine, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said there was “hope for compromise”, writes the BBC. Ukraine and Russia on Wednesday made progress on a “15-point” peace plan, which includes a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops if Kyiv declares neutrality and accepts limits on its armed forces, according to Al Jazeera. Ukraine would also have to give up any ambition to join NATO and agree not to host foreign military bases, among other conditions.
Earlier, the BBC reported that in a Facebook video President Volodymyr Zelensky had said peace talks with Russia were beginning to “sound more realistic, but time is still needed” to reach a breakthrough. On Tuesday, Ukraine’s President said Ukraine had to face up to the fact it may not become a member of NATO.
Travelling to Kyiv on Tuesday, the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic met with Zelensky some time that night. Their visit was the first of any foreign leader since Russia invaded Ukraine three weeks ago. “We admire your courage and we will continue to provide more aid and support,” Czechia’s Prime Minister Petr Fiala said to the Ukrainians.