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Zelensky urges Western leaders to do more on sanctions and military aid

Ukrainian president claimed Nato leaders had been “hypnotised” by the threat of a conflict with Russia as he again pleaded for help.

15 March 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed his frustration with Nato over the refusal to implement a no-fly zone as Kyiv continued to come under fire.

In a video call to Boris Johnson and representatives from Baltic and northern European countries gathered in London, Mr Zelensky said Nato had been “hypnotised” by Russia.

He said Vladimir Putin’s invasion had undermined the European security infrastructure by invading a sovereign country.

Nato was “the strongest alliance in the world” but “some of the members of this alliance are hypnotised by Russian aggression”.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at Lancaster House (Justin Tallis/PA)

“We hear a lot of conversations about the third world war, that allegedly it could start if Nato will close the Ukrainian sky for Russian missiles and planes and, therefore, the humanitarian no-fly zone was not yet established,” he said.

“That allows the Russian army to bombard peaceful cities and blow up housing blocks and hospitals and schools.

“Four multi-storey buildings in Kyiv in the early morning were bombarded, dozens of dead.”

Mr Zelensky expressed his frustration that Ukraine had not been allowed to join Nato, something which could have protected it from invasion because of the alliance’s mutual defence policy.

Speaking through an interpreter he said the alliance’s “open doors” policy had not worked for Ukraine

“Of course Ukraine is not a Nato member, we understand that,” he told the European leaders.

“We have heard for many years about the open doors, but we also heard that we can’t enter those doors.

“This is the truth and we have simply to accept it as it is.”

He said other countries bordering Russia should think about their “independent defence capabilities” outside Nato.

“We are doing the best to get the jet fighters and missile defence systems. We need some new format, if we cannot enter the open doors (of Nato) then we have to co-operate with platforms and unions that allow us to do so.”

Western sanctions “are not enough” to end the Russian aggression, he said, calling for a full trade embargo.

The president criticised firms which continued doing business with Russia and said “the world is silent” as nuclear power plants are captured and shelled.

“Many international companies have not yet withdrawn from the Russian market although severe sanctions were introduced,” he said.

Such firms “don’t care about the 97 kids who were killed so far”.

He called for Russian navy vessels to be barred from ports around the world and for all Russian banks to be excluded from the Swift financial messaging system.

He said: “We have to acknowledge Russia as a rogue state and there has to be a trade embargo with Russia. This is something that we need and you need as well, just like the rest of the world, to make sure there is peace in Europe and Ukraine.”

Boris Johnson was leading the meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force nations – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

I hear your point very loud and clear about the economic sanctions that we need to tighten

Mr Zelensky told the leaders and ministers gathered at Lancaster House in London to “help yourself by helping us”.

“You know the kind of weapons we need, everyone knows,” he said.

He said the shipments of supplies from the UK and other nations were being rapidly used up.

“The amount that we are getting per week is used, usually by us within 20 hours,” he said.

As a result captured Russian equipment and old Soviet-era kit was being pushed into service.

Mr Johnson told the Ukrainian leader: “You challenge us, quite rightly, to do more and we all know that we can and we must do more.”

The Prime Minister said: “I hear your point very loud and clear about the economic sanctions that we need to tighten, where we need to go harder on the banks, on Swift.”

He acknowledged it is a “desperate moment” and “we must try to do more, particularly to support you in protecting the Ukrainian people from bombardment from artillery and by aviation”.

The UK has already said it is planning to send Starstreak anti-aircraft missile systems to Ukraine.

Mr Johnson said the Ukrainian president had been “inspirational and brave”.

“He has spoken to the world and he has mobilised world opinion against the brutality of Vladimir Putin,” he said.

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