Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged NATO on Thursday to provide Kyiv with unrestricted military aid, one month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“To save people and our cities, Ukraine needs military assistance without restrictions. In the same way that Russia is using its full arsenal without restrictions against us,” he told NATO representatives via video-link.
While thanking members of the Western military alliance for the defensive equipment provided so far, he appealed for offensive weapons.
“You can give us one percent of all your planes. One percent of your tanks. One percent!”
NATO has rebuffed Ukraine’s calls to intervene and impose a no-fly zone to stop Russia’s ferocious bombardment — and Kyiv is now focused on getting more advanced weaponry to defend itself.
Zelensky also accused Russia of deploying phosphorus weapons, which spread a powder that ignites when in contact with oxygen and causes severe burns.
“This morning, by the way, phosphorus bombs were used. Russian phosphorus bombs. Adults were killed again and children were killed again,” Zelensky said.
“The alliance can once more prevent the death of Ukrainians from Russian strikes, from Russian occupation, by giving us all the weapons we need.”
US President Joe Biden and world leaders opened a trio of emergency summits on Thursday with a sober warning from NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that the alliance must boost its defenses to counter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and “respond to a new security reality in Europe.”
Stoltenberg commented as he called to order a NATO summit focused on increasing pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over the assault on Ukraine while tending to the economic and security fallout spreading across Europe and the world.
“We gather at a critical time for our security,” Stoltenberg said, addressing the leaders seated at a large round table. “We are united in condemning the Kremlin’s unprovoked aggression and in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
He said the alliance is “determined to continue to impose costs on Russia to bring about the end of this brutal war.”
Over the course of Thursday, the European diplomatic capital is hosting the emergency NATO summit, a gathering of the Group of Seven industrialized nations and a summit of the European Union. Biden will attend all three meetings and hold a news conference afterward.
Meanwhile, Ukraine said it had struck a Russian naval transport vessel docked in the Azov Sea near the besieged port city of Mariupol.
“The Orsk large landing ship of the Black Sea Fleet of the occupiers has been destroyed in the port of Berdyansk captured by Russia,” the Ukrainian navy wrote on social media.
#war Detailed video of today's incident with Russian landing ships in the port of Berdyansk. On one of the Ropucha Сlass landing ships, there is also a fire on the deck. Full version: https://t.co/goQoXg3Mle pic.twitter.com/lzbwT1Ws0S
— Capt(N) (@Capt_Navy) March 24, 2022
Plumes of black smoke billowed from a large gray vessel docked next to big cranes in amateur footage of what the Ukraine navy said was the strike on the ship.
There was no immediate response to the claim from Russia’s defense ministry and the strikes could not be independently verified.
Russia’s state-run TASS new agency earlier this week had described the arrival of landing craft as “an epic event” that “opens up opportunities for the Black Sea in terms of logistics,” citing the Russian defense ministry-linked television channel, Zvezda.
TASS reported that the vessel was capable of carrying up to 1,500 tons of cargo.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) March 24, 2022
Berdyansk is situated around 80 kilometers (60 miles) to the west of the strategic city of Mariupol, which has been encircled and heavily damaged by Russian forces.
Thousands of civilians have escaped Mariupol through evacuation corridors but some 100,000 people remain lacking water and electricity.
Kyiv says more than 2,500 people have been killed in the city since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine one month ago.
Russian forces have advanced further in southern Ukraine but only control Kherson, a town of approximately 200,000 people.
Also Thursday, the governor of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine said at least four people were killed, including two children, and six wounded from overnight strikes.
Sergiy Gayday said “unfortunately, the number of victims could be considerably higher,” accusing Russian forces of using phosphorus bombs in the village of Rubizhne.
Other officials in the region have made similar claims in recent days, which have not been independently verified.
“The Russians are struggling. They can’t advance. That’s why they have started to use heavy weapons,” said Gayday.
He said Russian strikes also hit Lysychansk and Novodruzhesk to the northwest of Luhansk, without providing additional details.