Zelenskyy Calls for ‘Unrestricted’ NATO Aid
Speaking on the eve of the NATO summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the alliance to provide “effective and unrestricted” support to Ukraine, including any weapons the country needs to fend off the Russian invasion.
“We ask that the alliance declare that it will fully assist Ukraine to win this war, clear our territory of the invaders and restore peace in Ukraine,” he said late Wednesday during his nightly video address to the nation.
Zelenskyy will speak to the NATO summit by video, the president’s office said.
He appealed to Western countries to stay united in the face what he says are Russia’s efforts to “lobby its interests” with “some partners” to bring them over to its side.
“We will see who is a friend, who is a partner and who has sold out and betrayed us,” he said in an emotional speech. “Together we should not allow Russia to break anyone in NATO, the EU or G-7, to break them and drag them to the side of war.”
Esteemed Theater Director Taken by Russians
Russian troops who occupy the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson seized one of the country’s most prominent theater directors “in a fascist manner” and took him to an unknown location, Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said.
Witnesses said nine Russian military vehicles pulled up to the home of Oleksandr Kniga early Wednesday and led him out. The Russians warned neighbors that if they came out of their homes, they would be killed, the witnesses said.
“The whole world should know about this!” Tkachenko said on Facebook.
Kniga, 62, is one of the most important and respected theater directors in Ukraine. He founded the international theater festival Melpomene of Tavria.
He was among many in Kherson who oppose the Russian occupation. On Monday, Russian troops used stun grenades and fired in the air to disperse a protest.
Russia to Expel More American Diplomats
The U.S. State Department says Russia has begun the process of expelling several more diplomats from the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
The department said it received a list of diplomats on Wednesday who have been declared “persona non grata” by the Russian foreign ministry. It didn’t say how many diplomats were affected by the order, which generally results in the expulsion of those targeted within 72 hours.
The Russian foreign ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan on Monday to protest President Joe Biden’s description of Russian leader Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal” over the invasion of Ukraine. After that meeting, Russia warned that it was close to severing diplomatic relations with the United States, which would be an unprecedented move.
The State Department called Wednesday’s move “Russia’s latest unhelpful and unproductive step” in relations between the countries. It urged Russia “to end its unjustified expulsions of U.S. diplomats and staff.”
Russian Move on Ukraine Aid Fails at UN Security Council
A Russian-drafted call for aid access and civilian protection in Ukraine that does not mention Moscow’s role in the crisis failed at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, with only Russia and China voting yes and the remaining 13 members abstaining.
“If Russia cared about the humanitarian situation, it would stop bombing children and end their siege tactics. But they haven’t,” Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward told the council after the vote. Russia denies attacking civilians.
A Security Council resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, Britain, France, or the United States to be adopted. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused those who abstained on Wednesday of doing so “for political reasons.”
Britain Giving Ukraine Thousands More Missiles
Britain will send thousands more missiles to Ukraine’s government as Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Western allies to boost the supply of military aid to Ukraine.
Johnson is traveling to Brussels on Thursday for talks with NATO and leaders of the Group of Seven. He is expected to provide further details of the new British aid during the visit, including the donation of 6,000 more missiles comprising anti-tank and high-explosive weaponry.
“The United Kingdom will work with our allies to step up military and economic support to Ukraine, strengthening their defenses as they turn the tide in this fight,” Johnson said.
Britain has already sent more than 4,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.