NATO has abandoned us: On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised to stay in Kyiv as his army fought Russian invaders marching near the city in the worst offensive on a European country since WWII.
Following President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of war, Russia began an invasion by land, air, and sea on Thursday. As explosions and gunfire shook major cities, an estimated 100,000 people fled. Hundreds of people have been slain, according to reports.
According to US and Ukrainian officials, Russia is attempting to seize Kyiv and destabilize the administration, which Putin perceives as a puppet of the US. As they pushed along the quickest route from Belarus to Kyiv, Russian soldiers captured the Chernobyl former nuclear power facility north of Kyiv.
“(The) enemy has marked me down as the number one target,” Zelenskiy warned in a video message as heavy fighting was reported on multiple fronts. “My family is the number two target. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.”
“I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine.”
- Zelenskiy says he is Russia’s “number one target”
- Russian forces seize Chernobyl plant, advance on Kyiv
- U.S., EU announce new wave of sanctions
- Oil price soars as much as $2 per barrel
Putin claims that Russia is conducting “a special military operation” to prevent the Ukrainian government from committing genocide against its own people, a charge that the West dismisses. He also claims that Ukraine is an illegal state whose territory is traditionally Russian.
“To the best of my knowledge, President Zelenskiy remains in Ukraine at his job,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS. “Of course, we’re concerned for the safety of all of our friends in Ukraine – government officials and others.”
Ukraine, a sovereign country of 44 million people, declared independence when the Soviet Union fell apart and has recently ramped up attempts to join NATO and the European Union, objectives that enrage Moscow.
On top of sanctions imposed earlier this week, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the European Union imposed new ones on Moscow, including Germany’s decision to block an $11 billion gas pipeline from Russia.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy leader, called the bloc’s actions “the strongest package of penalties we have ever undertaken.”
China has been chastised for refusing to term Russia’s invasion an invasion.
“Any nation that countenances Russia’s shameless aggression against Ukraine will be tainted by association,” stated US President Joe Biden addressing reporters at the White House. He remained tight-lipped on China’s position.
Russia is one of the world’s largest energy producers, and it, along with Ukraine, is a major grain exporter. Sanctions and war will wreak havoc on economies all around the world.
Oil prices jumped as much as $2 per barrel on Friday as investors anticipated the impact of trade penalties against Russia, the world’s largest oil supplier.
On worries of grain supply interruptions from the important Black Sea area, U.S. wheat futures touched their highest level in nearly 14 years, corn stayed at an eight-month high, and soybeans rallied.
Airlines were also affected, with Japan Airlines (9201.T) canceling a trip to Moscow on Thursday evening and Britain restricting its airspace to Russian airlines.
The Ukrainian Military
According to Zelenskiy, 137 soldiers and civilians were killed in the conflict, with hundreds more injured. At least 70 people were murdered, according to Ukrainian officials.
According to Anton Herashchenko, an assistant to the interior minister, Ukrainian troops shot down an aircraft above Kyiv early Friday, which subsequently fell into a residential structure and caught fire. It wasn’t obvious whether the plane was manned.
According to the border guard agency, a missile hit a Ukrainian border post in the southern district of Zaporizhzhya, killing and wounding three guards.
The US and other NATO nations have given military supplies to Ukraine, but no soldiers have been dispatched for fear of igniting a larger European conflict.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, called for “additional armaments to continue fighting… the quantity of tanks, armored vehicles, planes, and helicopters that Russia hurled onto Ukraine is incomprehensible.”
Chernobyl, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Kyiv, was taken over by unidentified troops who disarmed a Ukrainian military unit defending the power plant, according to Ukraine’s official nuclear regulator.
There had been no injuries, nothing had been damaged, and radiation levels had remained steady, according to the report. It notified the International Atomic Energy Agency that control of the plant had been lost.