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Volodymyr Zelensky pleads with the West to prevent genocide by Russia in Ukraine

What was the point of saying ’never again’, president asks after missile strike near Kyiv Holocaust memorial

Volodymyr Zelensky's plea for the West to intervene more directly in the war has been echoed by a growing number of Ukrainians [Reuters/Umit Bektas]

The Ukrainian president has begged the West to intervene to stop a genocide in his country after Russia intensified its bombing campaign.

Volodymyr Zelensky implored NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine as a missile struck a television tower close to the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial in Kyiv. In September 1941, the Nazis murdered 30,000 Jews within a 48-hour period in the Babyn Yar ravine.

He tweeted:

The message was echoed by a growing number of Ukrainians urging Europe and America to intervene more directly and go beyond economic sanctions.

Yaakov Dov Bleich, the chief rabbi of Ukraine, pleaded with the Nato military alliance to stop the 40-mile-long Russian convoy heading towards the capital.

“Just bomb them out, shoot them out, do something to stop them before they come and kill more people,” he said in an emotional interview on BBC Radio 5.

Boris Johnson was given a dressing down at a press conference by Daria Kaleniuk, a Ukrainian anti-corruption campaigner, who criticised the lack of a no-fly zone over the country.

Appearing close to tears at points, Ms Kaleniuk said: “We are asking for the no-fly zone, we are seeing the response that it will trigger World War Three – but what is the alternative, Mr Prime Minister? To observe how our children, instead of planes, are protecting Nato from the missiles and bombs?”

Similar sentiments were found among residents of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, as Russian missiles took down a television tower and kept people underground or inside.

“The West needs to deploy a no-fly zone. On the ground, our own forces can take of us, but the skies will be used to bomb our citizens,” Constantin Kvurt told The Telegraph.

But Mr Johnson and other Western leaders, fearing the consequences of direct military engagement with Russia, doubled down on opposition to imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

During visits to Poland and Estonia, countries on NATO’s eastern flank, the Prime Minister stressed that not a single NATO member was considering armed conflict with Russia.

“This is a time when miscalculation and misunderstanding is all too possible, and it’s therefore crucial that we get that message over,” he said. “When it comes to a no-fly zone in the skies above Ukraine, we have to accept the reality that that involves shooting down Russian planes. That’s a very, very big step that is simply not on the agenda of any NATO country.”

A blast hits a television tower in Kyiv, but Nato and Boris Johnson have ruled out a no-fly zone in Ukraine [Reuters/Carlos Barria]

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, delivered the same message, saying the alliance “is not going to send troops into Ukraine or move planes into Ukrainian airspace”.

Meanwhile, an apparent offer by Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, to procure fighter jets for Ukraine collapsed as Poland, Bulgaria and Slovakia made clear they would not be doing so.

Russian forces stepped up their attacks on crowded urban areas on Tuesday, bombarding the central square in Kharkiv in the morning in an attack that left at least 10 people dead.

Video footage showed intense explosions in Kharkiv, with munitions experts saying it appeared that multiple cluster bombs had been deployed.

Late on Tuesday night, Russian forces surrounded the southern port city of Mariupol, cut off its electricity and bombarded residents with heavy shelling.

A Ukrainian soldier stationed there sent a message to The Telegraph in which he said: “If anything happens, don’t let us be forgotten. We are surrounded in Mariupol and no way out.”

A senior Ukrainian official said an assassination attempt against Mr Zelensky – who has warned he is the Kremlin’s “target number one” – by an “elite group” of Chechens had been foiled.

There were signs that Russian soldiers on the ground in Ukraine were not making the progress sought amid reports that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has grown frustrated.

On NBC, American officials cited “solid intelligence” that Putin is angry and lashing outat his inner circle over Russian military failures and the international backlash.

Russian troops have been plagued by poor morale, food shortages and problems with fuel, leading some to surrender or defect, a Pentagon official also claimed.

The long column of Russian armoured vehicles picked up on satellite images approaching Kyiv appeared to have slowed, although fears of the city being encircled and cut off remain.

Mr Johnson voiced concerns that Putin could “Grozny-fy” the Ukrainian capital – a reference to Russian carpet bombing of the Chechen capital in 1999 and 2000.

“If you're sitting where he is, his only instinct is going to be to double down and to try and ‘Grozny-fy’ Kyiv and to reduce it to [rubble],” he told ITV News.

The International Court of Justice at The Hague is set to hold hearings over the war next week after Kyiv accused Russia of “planning acts of genocide”.

After six days of war in Ukraine, 600,000 people have fled the country, according to latest estimates.

Joe Biden, the US president, rewrote his State of the Union address to highlight the bravery of Ukrainian soldiers resisting the Russian advances.

In his speech, Mr Biden accused Putin of being a "dictator" and said the US and the West would make him pay for the invasion of Ukraine. Mr Biden also led members of Congress in a standing ovation for the Ukrainian people.

Mr Zelensky, who talked to Mr Biden on Tuesday, had urged the US president to deliver a strong and “useful” message about the invasion.

Mr Zelensky, who has been praised for his inspiring and courageous leadership by Western politicians, also urged Brussels to accept Ukraine’s request for EU membership.

“We are fighting for our rights, for our freedoms, for our lives,” he told MEPs in a video address to the European Parliament from an undisclosed bunker.

The European Parliament’s interpreter could be heard choking up as he translated the speech. Mr Zelensky finished the address with a raised fist and was greeted with a standing ovation.


(c) 2022, The Telegraph


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