We won’t join NATO if that brings peace

 We won’t join NATO if that brings peace


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday he is prepared to pledge that Ukraine would not join NATO, in a bid to broker a peace deal with Russia.

Zelensky said he would still demand complete withdrawal of Russian forces from his country and international commitments to Ukraine’s security.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said talks with Ukraine are moving “much more slowly and less substantively than we would like,” according to Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in his daily call with reporters.

In other news as the war continued into its fourth week:

  • Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said he would personally escort humanitarian aid to Mariupol in coordination with the Red Cross. Dendias said he has made a formal request to Ukrainian and Russian authorities to allow him access to the city, which has been under siege for weeks and is home to a sizable Greek population.
  • A Ukrainian photographer was reported missing from around Kyiv – the same day another Ukraine journalist was said to have been released by Russian security forces. The Kyiv-based Ukrainian Independent Information Agency of News, or UNIAN, said photographer Maksym Levin has been unaccounted for since March 13, when he was working in Vyshhorod, a northern suburb of the country’s capital. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian outlet Hromadske said its missing female reporter had been released.
A Ukrainian serviceman rests at his position in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
A Ukrainian serviceman rests at his position in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Andrew Marienko / AP

Early Tuesday, Ukrainian troops drove Russian forces out of Makariv after a fierce battle, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.

The regained territory allowed Ukrainian forces to retake control of a key highway and block Russian troops from surrounding Kyiv from the northwest.

Still, the Defense Ministry said Russian forces were able to partially take other northwest suburbs, Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin, some of which had been under attack almost since Russia’s military invaded nearly a month ago.

Explosions and bursts of gunfire shook Kyiv, and black smoke rose from a spot in the north. Intensified artillery fire could be heard from the northwest, where Russia has sought to encircle and capture several suburban areas of the capital.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said he did not have enough information to confirm a Ukrainian victory at Makariv. Kirby did say there were indications that Ukrainian forces were on the offensive on multiple fronts, attempting to regain a foothold near Kherson.

The southern city, just north of Crimea, is the only major city to fall to Russian forces so far.

People work to cover the windows of a building damaged by a bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine.
People work to cover the windows of a building damaged by a bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Vadim Ghirda / AP

As Ukrainian forces attempted advances, Russian ground forces were still stagnant, relying on their weeks-long tactic of artillery fire and air strikes, Kirby said.

Russian forces continued to bomb Mariupol, pummeling the besieged southern port city from land and sea.

Mariupol has been under attack for weeks, cut off from resupplies of food and water. Ukrainians on Monday defied Russian demands for the city’s surrender.

As the shelling continued in Mariupol and elsewhere, the Pentagon said it believes the targeting of civilians by Russian forces is intentional.

“We believe that there are war crimes being conducted by the Russian armed forces,” Kirby said. “We, across the administration, are going to continue to gather evidence to provide to numerous investigative bodies.

Displaced Ukrainians on a Poland-bound train bid farewell in Lviv, western Ukraine.
Displaced Ukrainians on a Poland-bound train bid farewell in Lviv, western Ukraine.
Bernat Armangue / AP

“Clearly there are civilian casualties, and clearly, they’re mounting every day,” he added.

Meanwhile, Russian forces continue to be stymied by a lack of supplies, Kirby said.
“We continue to see indications that the Russians did not properly plan for logistics and sustainability,” he said.

Russian forces are struggling to replenish food and fuel, according to Kirby, who referenced a video purporting to show Russian troops looting a Ukrainian grocery store.

The reported supply issues extend to ammunition as well.

“They’ve been at this now for 27 days, they’ve expended a lot of ammunition,” Kirby said.

He questioned the Russians’ use of so-called hypersonic missiles in recent days and said the high-speed, long-range missiles might be in use because they were running out of ordinary weapons.

“It’s interesting that you would choose that against a fixed building at a relatively close range,” he said of reports of a hypersonic air strike.

“It’s hard to know exactly what the justification was for that,” he said. “It could be tied to inventory problems that they’re having with precision guided ammunition.”



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