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Russia Ukraine war updates: Volodymyr Zelensky reveals ‘compromise’ he might accept to end invasion


Ukrianian President Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed a “compromise” that could end the war with Russia.

Ukrianian President Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed a “compromise” that could end the war with Russia, which has now been dragging on for almost a month.

Speaking to his nation’s public broadcaster Suspilne today, Mr Zelensky suggested Ukraine could live with not seeking NATO membership.

“NATO should either say now that they are accepting us, or openly say they are not accepting us because they are afraid of Russia. Which is true,” he argued.

“And then we need to calm down and say OK, there are NATO member countries that can provide us security guarantees without a membership in NATO.

“That is where the compromise exists. That’s where the end of the war is.”

Mr Zelensky also drew a couple of red lines, however, saying Ukraine could not accept handing over any of its cities, and would not sign any peace agreement that includes the word “de-Nazification”.

“We cannot accept an ultimatum from Russia. How can we, after our people were killed?” Mr Zelensky said.

“It is impossible. Simply impossible … let’s say they demand to get Kharkiv, or Mariupol, or Kyiv. People in these cities won’t let them do it. The only way they can seize the cities is to kill everyone, and take the empty city.

“There can’t be any ‘de-Nazification’ in the agreement. When a country that is treading in the footsteps of the Nazis is accusing us of being Nazis, we can’t accept that.”

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Read on for the latest updates.

Almost a thousand civilians confirmed dead

The United Nations’ Human Rights Office has confirmed that at least 925 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the invasion, though it said the true figure was likely to be “considerably higher”.

“The receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed, and many reports are still pending corroboration.”

The Human Rights Office has also counted 1496 injured civilians, bringing the total number of casualties to 2421.

‘Hunting us down’: Terror inside hospital

Associated Press correspondent Mstyslav Chernov was part of the last team of international journalists left in the besieged city Mariupol. AP has published a powerful account of the day he and colleague Evgeniy Maloletka were told to flee the city, because Russian soldiers were hunting them.

“The Russians were hunting us down. They had a list of names, including ours, and they were closing in,” the first-person account begins.

“We were reporting inside the hospital when gunmen began stalking the corridors. Surgeons gave us white gloves to wear as camouflage.

“Suddenly, at dawn, a dozen soldiers burst in: ‘Where are the journalists, for f***’s sake?’ I looked at their armbands, blue for Ukraine, and tried to calculate the odds that they were Russians in disguise.

“I stepped forward to identify myself. ‘We’re here to get you out,’ they said.”

A police officer subsequently told the journalists why they were being told to evacuate.

“If they catch you, they will get you on camera and they will make you say that everything you filmed is a lie,” the officer told them.

“All your efforts and everything you have done in Mariupol will be in vain.”

The officer had previously begged the reporters to show the world what was happening in Mariupol. Now he was begging them to run.

The full story is a lengthy read, but well worth your time if you have some minutes to spare.

Exiled Russian: West ‘fails to understand’ Putin

The exiled Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was a political prisoner in his country for many years, recently wrote a piece in The Economist arguing for the West to intervene militarily in Ukraine.

It’s getting a bit of attention now after being shared approvingly by a prominent American politician, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

In the piece, Mr Khodorkovsky bemoans what he calls a “defeatist approach” from Western leaders like US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron.

“It is difficult for me to judge how their actions are seen by their electorates. However, I know well how they are perceived by Mr Putin,” he writes.

“They fly to Moscow, call him, ask him to stop, but assure him that they will not interfere and do not want him to perceive certain movements as a provocation. Putin sees all of this as weakness, and that is extremely dangerous.

“Part of the problem is that the current leaders of Western countries have never dealt with thugs. Their experience and education relate to interactions between statesmen. The principle of these people’s behaviour is that both sides concede to each other in the interests of their electorate or subjects. War is evil to them, and the use of force is a last resort.

“This is not the case with Vladimir Putin.”

Mr Khodorkovsky says Putin is “a bandit” and “a thug by nature”.

“It is a drastic mistake when he is seen as a normal statesman. Russia’s foreign partners fail to understand who he really is,” he says.

“I have plenty of experience dealing with bandits. After spending 10 years in Russian prisons, I can say that the most dangerous thing is to show them any weakness or uncertainty. Any step towards their demands, without a clear demonstration of strength, will be perceived as weakness.”

Mr Khodorkovsky believes Putin will not stop with Ukraine, and seek to attack in the Baltic states or Poland next.

“As for nuclear weapons, the Russian President has a manic psychosis. He is obsessed with being a historical figure like Stalin,” he writes.

“But he is not suicidal, or we would not be sitting at the other end of a 20-foot table from his cronies. He will only use nuclear weapons if he believes there will be no response. But every day NATO rejects the no-fly zone over Ukraine, his self-confidence grows.”

Zelensky reveals ‘compromise’ he might accept

Volodymyr Zelensky has spoken publicly a couple of times in recent hours.

First, the Ukrainian President gave an interview to his nation’s public broadcaster, Suspilne.

“We cannot accept an ultimatum from Russia. How can we, after our people were killed?” Mr Zelensky said.

“It is impossible. Simply impossible … let’s say they demand to get Kharkiv, or Mariupol, or Kyiv. People in these cities won’t let them do it. The only way they can seize the cities is to kill everyone, and take the empty city.”

He said there was one word he could not accept including in any peace agreement.

“There can’t be any ‘de-Nazification’ in the agreement. When a country that is treading in the footsteps of the Nazis is accusing us of being Nazis, we can’t accept that.”

Mr Zelensky did give an indication of where a compromise could be struck in the name of peace, suggesting Ukraine could live with not seeking NATO membership.

“NATO should either say now that they are accepting us, or openly say they are not accepting us because they are afraid of Russia. Which is true,” he argued.

“And then we need to calm down and say OK, there are NATO member countries that can provide us security guarantees without a membership in NATO.

“That is where the compromise exists. That’s where the end of the war is.”

The rest of these quotes come from Mr Zelensky’s nightly address, delivered in the early hours of the morning, local time.

He mocked Russia’s air force pilots in fairly brutal fashion, referring to a jet that was shot down in the Kharkiv region today.

“Our military has already shot down so many Russian jets and helicopters that one can only wonder, what do their pilots have instead of brains? Also emptiness?” he mused.

“I said ‘also’ not by accident, because they have emptiness inside of their hearts and souls, instead of everything that makes humans human.

“Russian troops do not even know what it is like to be free. They were driven here, to be honest, like convicts sentenced to death, condemned to disgrace.”

Satellite photos show scale of destruction

Maxar Technologies, a US-based space technology company, has released fresh satellite photos showing the damage on the ground in Ukraine.

The first one shows an industrial area of Chernihiv, a city very near the country’s northern border with Belarus. The other two show Mariupol, the southern port city that has endured the brunt of Russian bombardment in recent weeks.

Yesterday Ukraine rejected a Russian ultimatum to surrender the city.

‘Unexploded missile’ found in kitchen

A TikTok video of a Ukrainian finding what appears to be an unexploded Russian missile lodged in their kitchen has been viewed almost three million times.

“Lucky nothing exploded,” the video’s caption reads.

In a sign that Ukrainians are retaining their sense of humour, despite the grim situation they’re in, many of the commenters had some fun with the incident.

“You were just saved from washing the dishes,” said one person.

A second video posted later showed authorities examining the apparent missile and waggling it back and forth.

Russia is now starting to have “inventory issues” with its precision-guided missiles, some of which are “failing to launch, or failing to hit the target, or failing to explode on contact”, US defence officials said today.

Perhaps this is an example.

‘Clear sign’ Putin is considering chemical weapons

US President Joe Biden appears to have confirmed Russia’s use of hypersonic missiles in Ukraine, though the Pentagon says it can neither confirm nor refute Russia’s claim to have employed the new weapon.

Vladimir Putin has described the hypersonic missile as an “ideal weapon”. It moves faster than conventional missiles and can manoeuvre after being fired, making it harder for defence systems to track.

“You’ll notice Russia just launched the hypersonic missile, because it’s the only thing they can get through with absolute certainty,” Mr Biden said.

“As you all know, it’s a consequential weapon, but with the same warhead on it as any other launch missile. It doesn’t make that much difference, except it’s almost impossible to stop it. There’s a reason they’re using it.”

This is rather different from remarks a few hours earlier by an anonymous US defence official, speaking to reporters.

“We’re not able to refute it, but we can’t independently confirm it either,” the official said of Russia’s claim.

“What we would assess is it’s certainly possible.”

They said Russia’s alleged use of the missile in a pair of fairly routine strikes was “a bit of a head scratcher”, because “it’s not clear why you would need a hypersonic missile fired from not that far away to hit a building”.

In his comments today Mr Biden also reiterated the risk of Russia using chemical weapons in a “false flag operation”.

“Whenever (Putin) starts talking about something he thinks NATO, Ukraine or the United States is about to do, it means he’s gretting ready to do it. No joke,” he said.

“His back is against the wall and now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up, including asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe. Simply not true.

“They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That is a clear sign he’s considering using both of those.”

‘Inept’: Key flaw in Russia’s invasion

A month into the war, the United States has been unable to determine whether Russia has an overarching military commander responsible for leading the invasion, CNN reports.

“Without a top, theatre-wide commander on the ground in or near Ukraine, units from different Russian military districts operating in different parts of Ukraine appear to be competing for resources rather than co-ordinating their efforts,” it says, citing information from two US defence officials.

“Units participating in different Russian offensives across Ukraine have failed to connect, these sources say, and in fact appear to be acting independently with no overarching operational design.

“Russian forces also appear to be having significant communication issues. Soldiers and commanders have at times used commercial cell phones and other unsecure channels to talk to each other.”

A short time ago, CNN host Pamela Brown interviewed former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis, who said it was “bad generalship” to conduct a “huge nationwide operation without a single unitary commander”.

“It creates real confusion. It is part of why they’re stalled,” he said.

Retired Australian General Mick Ryan puts it succinctly here: “If there is a senior Russian Ukraine commander, he has performed terribly. If there isn’t, the Russians may be even more inept than we thought.”

Putin accused of ‘kidnapping’ 2500 children

The Ukrainian government has issued a statement calling on the international community to act over Russia’s removal of thousands of civilians from the country.

Thousands of Ukrainians from the east of the country, and from the besieged city Mariupol, have allegedly been forcibly taken to Russia.

“Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents have been taken to Russian territory,” the Mariupol City Council said on Saturday.

“The occupiers illegally took people from the Livoberezhny district and from the shelter in the sports club building, where more than a thousand people (mostly women and children) were hiding from the constant bombing.”

It said the people in question were taken across the border, where there documents were checked. Some were then redirected to remote Russian cities, while the “fate of the others is unknown”.

Russian state media’s version of events is that thousands of Mariupol residents “found themselves in Russia in complete safety”. It now reports more than 62,000 people have been “evacuated” across the border to Russia.

“The Russian occupation forces illegally deported to the territory of the Russian Federation 2389 children who were in the occupied districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said today.

“Forced displacement of civilians into the territory of the aggressor state, including children, shows signs of abduction. Such actions are a gross violation of international law, in particular international humanitarian law.

“By destroying homes and killing the parents, Russia deprives Ukrainian children of parental care and puts their lives in further jeopardy in Russia.

“We call on the international community to respond to the illegal removal of children, to increase pressure on Russia to make it stop the barbaric war.

“The facts of the abduction of children, as well as other facts of crimes of the Russian occupiers against civilians in Ukraine, are being investigated by law enforcment agencies. The perpetrators of these crimes will be brought to justice.”

Speaking to CNN a short time ago, the former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch described the forced deportations as “Stalin tactics”.

Mariupol continues to suffer the worst of Russia’s attacks. Today the city council accused Russia of targeting two families who were trying to evacuate, leaving two children in critical condition.

Cars carrying the two families were reportedly hit by artillery fire.

Russian missiles ‘failing to explode’

Russia is now starting to have “inventory issues” with its precision-guided missiles, some of which are “failing to launch, or failing to hit the target, or failing to explode on contact”.

Those quotes come from a senior US defence official, speaking to reporters today.

“You’re seeing the increasing use of what we would call dumb bombs,” they said, referring to the more basic type of explosives which lack the technology to strike a specific target.

Add this to the list of problems plaguing Russia’s war effort.

True Russian death toll appears to leak

Something strange happened in Russia this morning: a pro-government tabloid newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, published and then deleted figures it described as the Russian Defence Ministry’s official casualty statistics.

According to those numbers, 9861 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine, with a further 16,153 injured. The last time we heard any official death toll from Russia, almost three weeks ago, it was just 498.

The circumstances of this new figure being reported are murky. It may well be a leak. It is also conceivable that the tabloid’s website was hacked. If legitimate, however, it indicates the true Russian death toll is far higher than the government has publicly admitted.

It’s also roughly in line with the assessment of US intelligence, which last week estimated more than 7000 Russians had been killed.

Ukraine estimates it has killed more than 14,000, though its figures have consistently been far higher than those of Western intelligence agencies.

Second nation ‘preparing offensive’ against Ukraine

A senior NATO intelligence official has warned a second country, Belarus, is preparing to attack Ukraine, reinforcing Russia’s side of the war.

Belarus, led by pro-Russian autocrat Alexander Lukashenko, is one of the few nations that still supports Russia in the wake of its invasion. Lukashenko has allowed Russian forces to use his country’s territory to launch attacks on Ukraine, and Belarusian hospitals have been receiving Russians wounded in the war.

Lukashenko has been in office since 1994, and is sometimes referred to as “Europe’s last dictator”, having stayed in power through elections widely viewed as rigged.

Speaking anonymously to the media overnight, the senior NATO official said Belarus was preparing a pretence for entering the war. It is also, reportedly, planning to allow Russia to station nuclear weapons within its borders.

“The Belarusian government is preparing the environment to justify a Belarusian offensive against Ukraine and the imminent deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus,” the official said, according to The Guardian.

“I’m not telling you they’re going to put nukes in there tomorrow. What I mean is, they’ve taken steps politically to now be able to receive nuclear weapons if such a decision is made.”

The official went on to say the war was “rapidly approaching” a stalemate, if one doesn’t already exist. But with Putin unwilling to concede defeat, the likely result is a “long” and “drawn out” war with massive loss of life.

That is consistent with what we’ve been hearing from military experts in recent days.

I should note that a recent survey by Chatham House, an international affairs think tank, only 13 per cent of Belarusians support sending their country’s soldiers to Ukraine. A further 30 per cent aren’t sure, while 58 per cent are opposed.

A majority of Belarusians feel their nation should remain neutral in the conflict.

‘Outright lies’: Russia behind ‘hoax calls’

The British government has accused Russia of being behind hoax calls to two of its ministers, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel, in which impostors posed as Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

“The Russian state was responsible for the hoax telephone calls made to UK ministers last week,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said.

“This is standard practice for Russian information operations, and disinformation is a tactic straight from the Kremlin playbook to try to distract from their illegal activities in Ukraine and the human rights abuses being committed there.

“We are seeing a string of distraction stories and outright lies from the Kremlin, reflecting Putin’s desperation as he seeks to hide the scale of the conflict and Russia’s failings on the battlefield.”

The UK is reportedly concerned that Russia will release doctored versions of the ministers’ quotes from the hoax calls.

‘Survived Hitler, murdered by Putin’

Among countless tragedies on the ground in Ukraine: a 96-year-old man who survived four Nazi concentration camps last century has been killed by a Russian bomb, according to the Ukrainian government.

“Borys Romanchenko, 96, survived four Nazi concentration camps: Buchnwald, Peenemunde, Mittelbau-Dora and Bergen-Belsen. He lived his quiet life in Kharkiv until recently,” said the nation’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

“Last Friday a Russian bomb hit his house and killed him. Unspeakable crime. Survived Hitler, murdered by Putin.”





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