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Zelensky implores NATO for more aid as war in Ukraine enters second month

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an impassioned appeal to President Biden and other NATO leaders for more aid Thursday as the war ravaging his country entered its second month with more bombing by Russian forces and civilian suffering in besieged cities.

In a video address to an emergency NATO summit in Brussels, Zelensky requested that the alliance offer Ukraine even a small fraction of its materiel to help beat back Russian troops on the ground and deadly attacks from the skies.

“So far we haven’t received a single plane” from NATO, Zelensky said. “You have at least 20,000 tanks. Ukraine is asking for 500. From all of your tanks, just 500 — give them to us, sell them to us. So far we haven’t got a clear answer.”

He acknowledged that Ukraine was not itself a member of the 30-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization, occupying “some gray zone” between the West and Russia. But he insisted that his nation was fighting for values held in common with NATO members and against an invading army with a massive arsenal.

“You can see the consequences today — the number of people killed, the number of peaceful cities ruined,” Zelensky said. “We are on unequal terms for over a month.”

NATO has doubled its troops in Eastern European nations in the last month but refused to enact a no-fly zone over Ukraine for fear of sparking a wider war. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has also echoed Biden’s warnings of possible chemical warfare by Russia in Ukraine, saying that “any use of chemical weapons would totally change the nature of the conflict.”

Fighting was reported overnight in several Ukrainian cities Thursday.

Around the capital of Kyiv, where Ukrainian military leaders and Western intelligence officials say local forces have pushed the Russians farther back on the city outskirts, artillery fire and and battles were reported in the northwestern suburbs of Kotsiubynske and Irpin and farther out in Yasnohorodka.

The Kyiv city administration said Thursday that Russian attacks have damaged or destroyed 10 homes, 12 schools and six kindergartens since last month.

In the northeast near the Russia border, the second-largest city of Kharkiv shook overnight as a loud explosion was heard across neighborhoods. The regional governor, Oleg Sinegubov, told local media that the sound came from Russian missiles. Casualties were unknown.

“People do not leave bomb shelters almost around the clock,” a statement from the Kharkiv regional police department said Thursday. Police said 294 civilians had died since the war began Feb. 24.

Midday Thursday, about 200 people who had emerged from shelters — some of which are subway stations — lined up outside the Archangel Michael church, southeast of the city center, for food and aid. At the Taras Shevchenko Monument near the center of Kharkiv, dozens of volunteers packed sandbags to pile around the statue to protect it from further bombardment. Shevchenko is a beloved 19th century Ukrainian poet and writer.

In the north in Chernihiv, close to Belarus, government officials reported that Russian bombs tore apart a key bridge Wednesday that was used to truck in humanitarian aid and evacuate residents. The battered city has drawn a comparison to the southern port of Mariupol, large parts of which have been reduced to rubble as its 100,000 remaining residents — less than one-quarter of its prewar population — struggle to survive without basic services.

Lyudmila Denisova, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, said in a video that Chernihiv has “no electricity, water, heat and almost no gas,” and infrastructure has been “destroyed.”

As the death toll in Ukraine — more than 900, according to a conservative estimate from the United Nations — continues to climb, the U.N. General Assembly was set Thursday to vote on a resolution blaming Russia for the growing humanitarian crisis and calling for an end to the invasion. The U.N. says that more than 10 million people have been displaced by the war with 3.5 million fleeing the country.

Moscow has denounced the proposed U.N. resolution as “anti-Russian.” Earlier, the Security Council, of which Russia is a permanent member, defeated a Russian resolution that mentioned humanitarian needs in Ukraine but avoided mentioning the war.

With no end in sight to the fighting, the diplomatic and economic battle between Russia and Western nations has also intensified.

Biden landed Wednesday night in Brussels to begin a three-day European tour to strengthen European and American resolve in support of Ukraine and against Russia, which the U.S. on Wednesday formally accused of war crimes. His visit came as Russia said it would expel some U.S. diplomats in response to a similar move by the U.S. against Russian diplomats.

Britain, which has joined the U.S. and European Union in announcing multiple rounds of sanctions against Russia, said Thursday it would put 65 new sanctions in place. They target oligarchs as well as key Russian industries and companies, including several banks, the railway system and the paramilitary Wagner Group.

“These oligarchs, businesses and hired thugs are complicit in the murder of innocent civilians, and it is right that they pay the price,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said. “Putin should be under no illusions — we are united with our allies and will keep tightening the screw on the Russian economy to help ensure he fails in Ukraine.”

Yam reported from Kharkiv and Kaleem from London. Times staff writer Patrick J. McDonnell in Lviv, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

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