Ukraine war: Zelensky tells Putin 'it's time to talk'

‘End this war now… or Russia will take several GENERATIONS to recover’: Zelensky tells Putin ‘it’s time to talk’ as his forces continue to suffer heavy losses from floundering invasion

  • Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Russian warmonger Vladimir Putin to end his illegal invasion of Ukraine 
  • He told Putin to negotiate with him directly, saying that otherwise Russia will take ‘generations to recover’ 
  • Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine renounce any ambitions to join NATO and recognise Crimea as Russian 
  • But Kyiv rejected the proposal and instead called for an international security guarantee 

Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Russian warmonger Vladimir Putin to end his illegal invasion and negotiate directly with Ukraine’s comic-turned-wartime president, warning that otherwise Russia will take ‘several generations to recover’.

In a night-time video address to the nation outside the Presidential Office on Friday, Zelensky also accused Russian forces of deliberately causing a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ to pressure Kyiv into capitulating to Putin’s demands.

Appealing to Putin to hold direct talks with him as Kremlin troops encircle Ukraine’s capital, he said: ‘We have always insisted on negotiations. We have offered dialogue, offered solutions for peace. Not just for 23 days of invasion.

‘I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk. It’s time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover.’

Ukraine and the West claim that Russia’s invasion is floundering in part due to fierce Ukrainian resistance, poor planning and low morale among Russian forces. According to one US intelligence estimate, 7,000 Russian troops including four generals have already been killed – more than the number of American troops killed in either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars at 4,825 and 3,576 respectively – and between 14,000 and 21,000 troops have been injured in the fighting. 

The estimated Russian death toll is of a scale similar to that of the Battle of Iwo Jima, where 6,852 US troops were killed and 19,000 were wounded during five weeks of fighting Japanese forces in the most intense phase of the Pacific theatre of World War Two. 

Ukraine’s military has also suffered heavy losses, likely to be much higher than the 1,300 troops which Kyiv has confirmed as killed.

According to Ukraine’s military, Russia has lost 466 tanks, 115 helicopters, 914 vehicles, 95 aircraft, 213 artillery systems, 44 anti-aircraft weapons and 60 fuel tanks. Russia has not responded to Kyiv’s latest estimates, and the information could not be independently verified. 

The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine renounce any ambitions to join NATO, be neutral along the lines of Sweden and Austria, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory and recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent territories.

Putin’s lapdog Sergei Lavrov said neutrality was taking centre stage and that Moscow and Kyiv were ‘close to agreeing’ the wording of an agreement on NATO. But Kyiv rejected the proposal and instead called for a global security guarantee among Western partners, including potentially Britain, who will defend Ukraine if it is invaded again. 

Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Russian warmonger Vladimir Putin to end his illegal invasion and negotiate directly with Ukraine’s comic-turned-wartime president, warning that otherwise Russia will take ‘several generations to recover’

Putin attends a concert marking the eighth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow

Ukraine’s military claims Russia has lost 466 tanks, 115 helicopters, 914 vehicles, 95 aircraft, 213 artillery systems, 44 anti-aircraft weapons and 60 fuel tanks. The information could not be independently verified 

Apartments damaged by shelling, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 13, 2022

Cars drive past a destroyed Russian tank as a convoy of vehicles evacuating civilians leaves Irpin, March 9, 2022

A Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces member holds an NLAW anti-tank weapon, in the outskirts of Kyiv, March 9, 2022

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In his address, Zelensky said Russian forces are blockading Ukraine’s largest cities to create a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ with the aim of persuading Ukrainians to cooperate with them. He said more than 9,000 people were able to leave besieged Mariupol in the past day, and in all more than 180,000 people have been able to flee to safety through humanitarian corridors.

He noted that the 200,000 people who attended a pro-war rally in Moscow on Friday was about the same number of Russian troops sent into Ukraine three weeks ago. Zelensky then asked his audience to picture the stadium filled with the thousands of Russians who have been killed, wounded or maimed in the fighting.

His comments came as Ukrainian and Russian forces fight for the Azovstal steel plant, one of the biggest in Europe, in Mariupol. 

Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said: ‘Now there is a fight for Azovstal. I can say that we have lost this economic giant. In fact, one of the largest metallurgical plants in Europe is actually being destroyed.’ 

Britain has warned that peace talks between Ukraine and Russia might be being used as a ‘smokescreen’ for the Kremlin to regroup troops for a fresh offensive.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it was up to president Zelensky how his country approached peace talks.

But in an interview with The Times, she said she feared the negotiations – which have been said to have made some progress – were a ‘smokescreen’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Scottish Conservative conference in Aberdeen he had pledged to send more defensive weapons to Ukraine after speaking to Zelensky on Friday. He said he was ‘more convinced than ever’ Putin’s military venture would fail.

Johnson is due to address the Conservative Spring Forum in Blackpool on Saturday, where he will likely again address the conflict in Ukraine.

Britain’s chief of defence intelligence said Putin was now fighting a ‘war of attrition’, after initial expectations of a quick conflict were dashed.

Lieutenant General Sir Jim Hockenhull said the Kremlin has been forced to switch tactics, turning to the ‘reckless and indiscriminate’ use of firepower which will inevitably lead to more civilian casualties.

Truss said that if Moscow was serious about peace talks being held with Ukraine, they would not be using such methods.

She told The Times: ‘If a country is serious about negotiations, it doesn’t indiscriminately bomb civilians that day.’

Truss said she was ‘very sceptical’ about the talks the two countries were holding, and added: ‘What we’ve seen is an attempt to create space for the Russians to regroup.’ She said: ‘We don’t see any serious withdrawal of Russian troops or any serious proposals on the table.’

The minister told newspaper ‘the Russians have lied and lied and lied. I fear the negotiation is yet another attempt to create a diversion and create a smokescreen’.

But she said: ‘Of course, Ukraine as a sovereign nation is fully entitled to undertake any negotiation process it sees fit.’

Western officials warned that the Russians have ‘enormous’ stocks of artillery ammunition meaning they could maintain their bombardment for weeks.

However, Gen Hockenhull said that, more than three weeks into the campaign, it is clear the Kremlin has still not achieved any of its initial objectives.

‘It has been surprised by the scale and ferocity of Ukrainian resistance and has been bedevilled by problems of its own making,’ he told journalists.

‘Russian operations have changed. Russia is now pursuing a strategy of attrition. This will involve the reckless and indiscriminate use of firepower. This will result in increased civilian casualties, disruption of Ukrainian infrastructure and intensify the humanitarian crisis.’

Johnson said now was the time to ‘tighten the vice’ on Moscow. ‘I am more than ever convinced that Putin will fail,’ he said.

‘He will fail, because in his catastrophic venture in Ukraine he fatally underestimated the heroism and the resolve of the Ukrainians to fight. He underestimated western unity. And among other things, by the way, he underestimated the passionate commitment of the people in this country to help.’

Putin called the rally to mark the eighth anniversary of ‘annexing’ Crimea, speaking of ‘de-Nazifying’ the peninsula and of debunked claims of ‘genocide’ in the Donbass

Putin spoke in front of a crowd tens of thousands strong at the Luzhniki World Cup stadium in Moscow, one of the few times he has been seen in public since launching his invasion 23 days ago

109 empty baby carriages on display in Lviv city center for the 109 babies killed so far during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Residents are seen on the street after emerging from bomb shelters, gathering their belongings as they prepare to flee the city

More than 1,300 people including women and babies are still feared trapped in the bombed ruins of a theatre in the besieged city of Mariupol (pictured)

Ukrainian policemen secure the area by a residential building that partially collapsed after a shelling in Kyiv, March 18, 2022

Pictured: The aftermath of a theatre in the encircled Ukrainian port city of Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were sheltering on Wednesday March 16

Putin fires hypersonic missile at Ukraine: Russia steps up war of attrition with another strike on west of country with 9,000mph missile as Kyiv claims invaders have suffered 15,000 casualties 

Russia unleashed its ‘unstoppable’ Kinzhal hypersonic missiles for the first time in Ukraine, the defence ministry said today, destroying a weapons storage site in the country’s west on Friday.

Russia has never before admitted using the high-precision weapon in combat, and state news agency RIA Novosti said it was the first use of the Kinzhal hypersonic weapons during the conflict in pro-Western Ukraine.

Moscow claims the ‘Kinzhal’- or Dagger – is ‘unstoppable’ by current Western weapons. The missile, which has a range of 1,250 miles, is nuclear capable. This was a conventional strike.

‘The Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles destroyed a large underground warehouse containing missiles and aviation ammunition in the village of Deliatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region’, the Russian defence ministry said Saturday.

Russian Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov also said that the Russian forces used the anti-ship missile system Bastion to strike Ukrainian military facilities near the Black Sea port of Odesa.

Ukraine defence officials are yet to comment on the Russian claims.

Russia reportedly first used the weapon during its military campaign in Syria in 2016 to support the Assad regime, although it was unclear if this was the same model. Some of the most intense bombing came in 2016 during the battle for Aleppo, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths.

Russian troops have continued to pound the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and launched a barrage of missiles against an aircraft repair installation at an airport on the outskirts of the western city of Lviv, close to the Polish border. One person was reported wounded.

Satellite photos showed the strike destroyed a repair hangar and appeared to damage two other buildings. A row of fighter jets appeared intact, but an apparent impact crater sat in front of them.

Ukraine said it had shot down two of six missiles in the volley, which came from the Black Sea.

The early morning barrage of missiles on Lviv’s edge was the closest strike yet to the centre of the city, which has become a crossroads for people fleeing from other parts of Ukraine and for others entering to deliver aid or fight.

In city after city around Ukraine, hospitals, schools and buildings where people sought safety have been attacked. Rescue workers were still searching for survivors in the ruins of a theatre that served as a shelter when it was blasted by a Russian airstrike on Wednesday in the besieged southern city of Mariupol.

Ludmyla Denisova, the Ukrainain parliament’s human rights commissioner, said on Friday that 130 people had survived the theatre bombing.

‘As of now, we know that 130 people have been evacuated, but according to our data, there are still more than 1,300 people in these basements, in this bomb shelter,’ Denisova told Ukrainian television. ‘We pray that they will all be alive, but so far there is no information about them.’

At Lviv, black smoke billowed for hours after the explosions, which hit a facility for repairing military aircraft near the city’s international airport, only four miles from the centre. One person was wounded, the regional governor, Maksym Kozytsky, said.

Multiple blasts hit in quick succession around 6am, shaking nearby buildings, witnesses said. The missiles were launched from the Black Sea, but the Ukrainian air force’s western command said it had shot down two of six missiles in the volley. A bus repair facility was also damaged, Lviv’s mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, said.

Lviv lies not far from the Polish border and well behind the front lines, but it and the surrounding area have not been spared Russia’s attacks. In the worst, nearly three dozen people were killed last weekend in a strike on a training facility near the city.

Lviv’s population has swelled by some 200,000 as people from elsewhere in Ukraine have sought shelter there.

Early morning barrages also hit a residential building in the Podil neighborhood of Kyiv, killing at least one person, according to emergency services, who said 98 people were evacuated from the building. Kyiv mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said 19 were wounded in the shelling.

Two others were killed when strikes hit residential and administrative buildings in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, according to the regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko.

In Kharkiv, a massive fire raged through a local market after shelling on Thursday. One firefighter was killed and another injured when new shelling hit as emergency workers fought the blaze, emergency services said.

The World Health Organisation said it has verified 43 attacks on hospitals and health facilities, with 12 people killed and 34 injured.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said on Thursday that American officials were evaluating potential war crimes and that if the intentional targeting of civilians by Russia is confirmed, there will be ‘massive consequences’.

The United Nations political chief, undersecretary-general, Rosemary DiCarlo, also called for an investigation into civilian casualties, reminding the UN Security Council that international humanitarian law bans direct attacks on civilians. 

Russia unleashed its ‘unstoppable’ Kinzhal hypersonic missiles for the first time in Ukraine, the defence ministry said today, destroying a weapons storage site in the country’s west on Friday. Pictured: An injured woman looks on as she receives medical treatment after shelling in a residential area in Kyiv on March 18, 2022

Pictured: A video screen grab showing a test of the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, dubbed ‘an ideal weapon’ by Vladimir Putin (file photo)

The missile can carry both conventional weapons and nuclear warheads, and can be launched from fighter jets – including Tu-22M3 bombers or MiG-31K interceptors. Pictured: The missile is seen being carried by a MiG-31K during a fly-over of Moscow’s Red Square in 2018

One of Ukraine’s most famous stage actresses is killed in Russian rocket attack while she slept in 16th floor apartment in south-east of Kyiv 

News of Oksana Shvets’ death was confirmed by the Young Theatre, a Ukrainian theatre company she had previously been working with. The troupe posted a tribute to the 67-year-old actress alongside a picture of the theatre and film star

One of Ukraine’s most famous stage actresses has been killed in a Russian rocket attack while she slept in an apartment in southeast Kyiv.

News of Oksana Shvets’ death was confirmed by the Young Theatre, a Ukrainian theatre company she had previously been working with.

The troupe posted a tribute to the 67-year-old actress alongside a picture of the theatre and film star. In a statement, translated from Ukrainian, the theatre company wrote on social media: ‘Bright memory to the talented actress! There is no forgiveness for the enemy that has come to our land!’.

The Kyiv Post has also confirmed the actor’s passing, adding on social media that she had been ‘murdered in Kyiv during the war’.

According to the theatre’s website, Shvets had graduated from Ivan Franko theatre school in 1975 and had a career that spanned decades. She had also been the recipient of the Merited Artist of Ukraine award, one of Ukraine’s highest and most coveted honours.

She said many of the daily attacks battering Ukrainian cities ‘are reportedly indiscriminate’ and involve the use of ‘explosive weapons with a wide impact area’. DiCarlo said the devastation in Mariupol and Kharkiv ‘raises grave fears about the fate of millions of residents of Kyiv and other cities facing intensifying attacks’.

Hundreds of civilians were said to have taken shelter in a grand, columned theatre in the city’s centre when it was hit on Wednesday by a Russian airstrike. On Friday, their fate was still uncertain, with conflicting reports on whether anyone had emerged from the rubble. Communications are disrupted across the city and movement is difficult because of shelling and fighting.

‘We hope and we think that some people who stayed in the shelter under the theatre could survive,’ Petro Andrushchenko, an official with the mayor’s office, told the Associated Press on Thursday. He said the building had a relatively modern, basement bomb shelter designed to withstand airstrikes. Other officials said earlier that some people had gotten out.

Video and photos provided by the Ukrainian military showed the at least three-story building had been reduced to a roofless shell, with some exterior walls collapsed. Satellite imagery on Monday from Maxar Technologies showed huge white letters on the pavement outside the theatre spelling out ‘CHILDREN’ in Russian to alert warplanes to the vulnerable people hiding inside.

Russia’s military denied bombing the theatre or anyplace else in Mariupol on Wednesday.

In Chernihiv, at least 53 people were brought to morgues over 24 hours, killed amid heavy Russian air attacks and ground fire, the local governor, Viacheslav Chaus, told Ukrainian TV on Thursday.

Ukraine’s emergency services said a mother, father and three of their children, including three-year-old twins, were killed when a Chernihiv hostel was shelled. Civilians were hiding in basements and shelters across the embattled city of 280,000.

‘The city has never known such nightmarish, colossal losses and destruction,’ Chaus said.

Ukraine’s comic-turned-wartime leader Volodymyr Zelensky said early on Friday he was thankful to President Joe Biden for additional military aid, but he would not get into specifics about the new package, saying he did not want Russia to know what to expect.

He said when the invasion began on February 24, Russia expected to find Ukraine much as it did in 2014, when Russia seized Crimea without a fight and backed separatists as they took control of the eastern Donbas region.

Instead, he said, Ukraine had much stronger defences than expected, and Russia ‘didn’t know what we had for defence or how we prepared to meet the blow’.

In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven leading economies accused Putin of conducting an ‘unprovoked and shameful war’, and called on Russia to comply with the International Court of Justice=’s order to stop its attack and withdraw its forces.

Both Ukraine and Russia this week reported some progress in negotiations. Zelensky said he would not reveal Ukraine’s negotiating tactics.

‘Working more in silence than on television, radio or on Facebook,’ Zelensky said. ‘I consider it the right way.’

Putin spoke by phone on Friday with German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, who urged the Russian president to agree to an immediate cease-fire and called for an improvement to the humanitarian situation, a spokesman for Scholz said.

In a statement about the call, the Kremlin said Putin told the German chancellor that Ukraine had ‘unrealistic proposals’ and was dragging out negotiations. The Kremlin also said it was evacuating civilians, and accused Ukraine of committing war crimes by shelling cities in the east.

While details of Thursday’s talks were unknown, an official in Zelensky’s office told the AP that on Wednesday, the main subject discussed was whether Russian troops would remain in separatist regions in eastern Ukraine after the war and where the borders would be.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks, said Ukraine was insisting on the inclusion of one or more Western nuclear powers in the negotiations and on legally binding security guarantees for Ukraine.

In exchange, the official said, Ukraine was ready to discuss a neutral military status.

Russia has demanded that NATO pledge never to admit Ukraine to the alliance or station forces there.

The fighting has led more than 3million people to flee Ukraine, the UN estimates. The death toll remains unknown, though Ukraine has said thousands of civilians have died.  

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