Volodymyr Zelensky launched a provocative attack on Germany for his policy towards Ukraine, accusing his leaders of maintaining good economic relations with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, over Europe’s security.
“We have seen how much ties your companies have with Russia,” he said in a speech to the Bundestag, “with a country that is simply using you and other countries to fund its war.”
Ukraine’s war leader delivered scathing criticism to German lawmakers on Thursday as the Russian invasion entered its fourth week, continuing to bombard his country’s population centers.
Ukraine has resisted fiercely and divested Moscow’s troops in some parts of the country. The US estimates that about 7,000 Russian troops have been killed so far.
Ukraine claims 14,000 Russian troops have been killed, while the Kremlin says the number is less than 500. The number of victims could not be independently verified.
Echoing recent speeches before the US Congress and the British House of Commons, Ukraine’s president called for increased military support, including a no-fly zone that the West has rejected for fear it would spark a world war.
But Zelensky also rebuked Germany’s long-held confidence in economic engagement with Moscow, citing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the recently shelved project designed to bring Russian gas directly to Europe under the Baltic Sea.
“When we told you that Nord Stream 2 was a weapon and preparation for a major war, you said it was just a commercial project,” he said.
Zelensky thanked those companies “that put morality above profit”. But he also complained that he had long pleaded “in vain” for help from Germany and received no support for Ukraine’s membership in NATO. “And even now you are hesitant to admit Ukraine to the EU,” he said.
Zelensky’s speech came as civilians emerged from the wreckage of a theater in Mariupol that was bombed by Russian planes, sparking further outrage from the west.
Joe Biden, the US president, will have a phone call with Xi Jinping on Friday to discuss, among other things, the war in Ukraine.
The call between US and China leaders is part of “efforts to maintain open lines of communication” between the two countries, the White House said.
The call comes after Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, this week met Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign policy adviser, in Rome. Sullivan made it clear before his trip that China would face repercussions if it undermined Western pressure on Putin and his regime.
Biden on Wednesday described Putin as a war criminal for the first time since the February 24 invasion in comments the Kremlin called “unforgivable”.
With Russia’s economy reeling from sanctions, Putin has lashed out at what he called Western attempts to exploit a treacherous “fifth column” in Russia, calling on the country to “cleanse itself” of “traitors” and “scum.” “.
Putin has insisted that his campaign in Ukraine is going according to plan, but his ground forces have failed in recent days to pool the military power needed to make decisive territorial gains, especially in the north.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has largely stalled on all fronts,” the British Defense Ministry said in an update Thursday morning, adding that Putin’s army “continues to suffer heavy losses”.
As another sign of US determination to support the defense of Ukraine, Biden approved the delivery of new US weapon systems to Kiev, including a batch of light Switchblade drones that can be carried into the battlefield and explode when hit at targets. flown.
As Russia continued to resort to aerial bombardment of civilian areas, at least one person died in the capital Kiev when a downed Russian missile hit a residential building, according to emergency services.
Rescue efforts were also underway in the besieged port of Mariupol, as authorities tried to reach people seeking shelter in a theater when the Russian Air Force dropped a bomb on the building.
Early indications were that most of the people in the building escaped the attack unharmed.
“After a terrible night of uncertainty . † † good news at last from Mariupol!” said Serhiy Taruta, a local MP. “The bomb shelter survived. The rubble began to be dismantled, people came out alive!”
Russia’s relentless shelling set the stage for negotiations with Ukraine over a political settlement to end the war, which both sides claimed had made progress.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday that “absolutely specific formulations” were “close to agreement,” including security guarantees for Moscow and neutrality for Kiev. But the Kremlin claimed on Thursday that the talks were held up by the “very slow” Ukrainian side.
Zelensky reiterated Thursday that Ukraine could accept international security guarantees that fell short of its long-standing aspiration to join NATO.
“My priorities in the negotiations are absolutely clear: to end the war, [achieve] security guarantees, sovereignty, restoration of our territorial integrity, real guarantees for our country, real protection for our country,” Zelensky said in a video address.
Some Western diplomats remain cautious about Russia’s intentions in the negotiations, especially as there are no signs of Moscow easing its military strike.
Additional reporting by Max Seddon in Riga and Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington
This post Zelensky accuses Germany of disappointing Ukraine
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