UKRAINE, POLAND: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lashed NATO on Saturday for ruling out a no-fly zone over his country saying the Western military alliance knew further Russian aggression was likely.
Nato rejected Ukraine’s request to impose a No-Fly Zone to halt Russia’s bombing, but Western allies did warn President Vladimir Putin of fresh sanctions if he does not stop the war.
“Knowing that new strikes and casualties are inevitable, Nato deliberately decided not to close the sky over Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a video published by the Presidency.
“We believe that the Nato countries themselves have created a narrative that the closing of the skies over Ukraine would provoke direct Russian aggression against Nato.”
NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg had said the alliance would not intervene in the conflict over fears of a direct clash with Moscow that could spiral into a wider conflict.
“The only way to implement a No-Fly Zone is to send Nato fighter planes into Ukraine’s airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” Stoltenberg said after the urgent meeting.
“If we did that, we’ll end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe, involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering.” But Zelensky insisted that the Nato gathering was a “weak summit, a confused summit”.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday visited a welcome centre set up by Polish authorities in what once was a shopping mall in Korczowa, close to the border with Ukraine, where roughly 3,000 refugees are taking shelter after the Russian invasion of their homeland.
America’s top diplomat heard harrowing tales from mothers and their children who described long and perilous journeys – and the shock of the sudden disruption and the fear for their lives – after fleeing the devastation of the war.
“Near our home we heard bombs,” said Venera Ahmadi, 12, who said she came with her brother and sister, six dogs and seven cats from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, more than 600km away. “We walked to the border, I don’t know how many hours. We crossed the border on foot.” Her 16-year-old sister, Jasmine, said: “I was scared I would die.”
Natalia Kadygrob, 48, reached the centre with her four adopted children from Kropyvnytskyi, almost 800 kilometres by bus on their way to her brother’s home in Germany. Her husband stayed behind. “There they bombed planes at the airport,” she said. “Of course we were afraid.”
Tatyana, 58, who wouldn’t give her last name, came with her daughter, Anna, 37, and her 6- and 1-year-old daughters, Katya and Kira, from Kharkiv, about 1,000km away. “They were shooting on the street,” Tatyana said. Anna said her home had been destroyed by a shell or a rocket.
Meanwhile, the International Organisation for Migration citing figures from Government ministries in countries where they have arrived, said on Saturday that 787,300 of the Ukraianian refugees went to Poland, 228,700 fled to Moldova, 144,700 to Hungary, 132,600 to Romania and 100,500 to Slovakia. – THE MALAY MAIL, THE HINDUSTAN TIMES