Boris Johnson has vowed that Vladimir Putin ‘must fail’ as he condemned the Russian warmonger’s ‘hideous and barbarous’ assault on Ukraine.
In a video message published on his Twitter account, Britain’s prime minister thanked businesses, community groups, individuals and sports clubs which have sanctioned the Kremlin over its lawless invasion of the former Soviet republic 10 days ago.
Calling the Western effort to punish Putin ‘absolutely vital’, he signed off with ‘Slava Ukraini’, a national salute used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces which means: ‘Glory to Ukraine’.
‘I want to thank business, community groups, individuals, sports clubs who have been coming together to support Ukraine. I think of the group in Northern Ireland that’s got a local warehouse as a centre for supplies to go to the war zone. I think of Inna Schorr, a London-based Ukrainian who’s raising thousands of pounds while her own family is back in Ukraine.
‘Don’t forget for all Ukrainian families here in the UK, we have ways of bringing our wider relatives back to the UK. We have a humanitarian route where you can sponsor people to come from Ukraine. And we also have through the Disasters and Emergencies Committee, the UK government is supporting the giving of yet more funds to Ukraine, in addition to all the work we’re doing on military support and of course the massive massive package of economic sanctions that we’re helping to impose.
‘The UK government started the ball rolling with £20million and we will match fund everything that you give. Thank you for what you are doing.
‘It is absolutely vital that Vladimir Putin understands that this hideous, barbarous assault cannot succeed and that he will fail, and believe me, I think he will. Putin must fail. Thank you for everything you’re doing, and Slava Ukraini.’
Russia has faced an unprecedented Western diplomatic, economic and cultural boycott since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
As sanctions first bit last week, the rouble sank 30 per cent in early trading before easing back to stand 20 per cent down. Its collapsing value risks wiping out the savings of ordinary Russians, who have been seen flocking to ATMs all over the country to empty their accounts, including in Putin’s home city of St Petersburg.
It comes as Putin warned that Moscow would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as ‘participation in the armed conflict’.
Boris Johnson has vowed that Vladimir Putin ‘must fail’ as he condemned the Russian tyrant’s ‘hideous’ assault on Ukraine
A demonstrator holds a placard as she takes part in a rally in Trafalgar square in central London, March 5, 2022
Putin chairs a video meeting of the Pobeda committee at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, July 2, 2020
Marina Yatsko, left, and her boyfriend Fedor mourn over her 18 month-old son Kirill’s lifeless body, killed in shelling, as he lays on a stretcher in a hospital in Mariupol, March 4, 2022
Smoke rise after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, March 4, 2022
Debris are scattered around the hole in a road at the site where several houses have been damaged by an explosion, following an air strike in Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Oblast, March 5, 2022
Since Russia invaded on February 24, Moscow has pummelled Ukrainian cities, with officials reporting hundreds of civilians killed. Europe’s largest atomic power plant came under attack sparking fears of a catastrophic nuclear accident. But Russia has so far only seized two key cities, Berdiansk and Kherson. Capturing Mariupol represents a bigger prize for Russia as it would deal a severe blow to Ukraine’s maritime access and connect with troops coming from annexed Crimea and the Donbas
MILITARY ANALYSTS SAY NATO WILL NOT IMPOSE A NO-FLY ZONE
Military analysts say there is no chance that the US, Britain and their European allies will impose a no-fly zone because it could easily escalate the war in Ukraine into a nuclear confrontation between NATO and Russia.
WHAT IS A NO-FLY ZONE?
A no-fly zone would bar all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine. Western nations imposed such restrictions over parts of Iraq for more than a decade following the 1991 Gulf War, during the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1993-95, and during the Libyan civil war in 2011.
WHY WON’T NATO TAKE THIS STEP IN UKRAINE?
In simple terms, because it would risk a direct military conflict with Russia that could escalate into a wider European war with a nuclear-armed superpower.
While the idea may have captured the public imagination, declaring a no-fly zone could force NATO pilots to shoot down Russian aircraft.
But it goes beyond that. In addition to fighter planes, NATO would have to deploy refueling tankers and electronic-surveillance aircraft to support the mission.
To protect these relatively slow, high-flying planes, NATO would have to destroy surface-to-air missile batteries in Russia and Belarus, again risking a broader conflict.
‘The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,’ NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said Friday.
‘We understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did that, we would end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe.’
‘We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine,’ he said.
WHAT WOULD A NO-FLY ZONE ACHIEVE?
Ukrainian authorities and people cowering night after night in bomb shelters say a no-fly zone would protect civilians – and now nuclear power stations – from Russian air strikes.
But analysts say it’s Russia’s ground forces, not aircraft, that are causing most of the damage in Ukraine.
What Ukrainians actually want is a broader intervention like the one that occurred in Libya in 2011, when NATO forces launched attacks on government positions, said Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. That’s not likely to happen when the opponent is Russia.
‘They want to see the West kind of sweeping in and taking out the rocket artillery that’s pummeling Ukrainian cities,’ Bronk said.
‘We’re not going to go to war against the Russian army. They are a massive nuclear-armed power. There is no way that we could possibly model, let alone control, the escalation chain that would come from such an action.’
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE SKIES OVER UKRAINE?
Predictions that Russia would quickly control the skies over Ukraine have not come to fruition.
Military experts are wondering why Russia has chosen to leave most of its fixed-wing combat aircraft on the ground during this massive land offensive.
One explanation may be that Russian pilots aren’t well trained in supporting large-scale land operations, engagements that require coordination with artillery, helicopters and other assets in a fast-moving environment.
‘I think that maybe they’re a little bit worried that that is a very constrained area. It’s not like the Middle East, where there’s all kinds of space to roam around in the air,’ said Robert Latif, a retired U.S. Air Force major general who now teaches at the University of Notre Dame.
‘They could very easily stray over borders,’ he explained.
‘With both Ukrainian and Russian air defense systems and Ukrainian, what little they have, and Russian airplanes all flying around – that could be a very confusing. I think maybe they’re a little bit worried about actually being able to pull it off.’
Speaking at a meeting with female pilots on Saturday, Putin said Russia would view ‘any move in this direction’ as an intervention that ‘will pose a threat to our service members’.
‘That very second, we will view them as participants of the military conflict, and it would not matter what members they are,’ he said.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has pushed the West to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that ‘all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you’, as Russian forces were battering strategic locations in Ukraine.
NATO has said a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorised aircraft from flying over Ukraine, could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.
His comments came as a ceasefire to evacuate residents from two cities in Ukraine quickly fell apart, with officials saying work to remove civilians had halted amid shelling hours after Russia announced the deal.
The Russian defence ministry said early on Saturday that it had agreed on evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces for Mariupol, a strategic port in the south-east, and the eastern city of Volnovakha. The vaguely worded statement did not make clear how long the routes would remain open.
But a short time later, Zelensky’s office said the ceasefire had already failed.
Deputy head of his office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said: ‘The Russian side is not holding to the ceasefire and has continued firing on Mariupol itself and on its surrounding area.
‘Talks with the Russian Federation are ongoing regarding setting up a ceasefire and ensuring a safe humanitarian corridor.’
Russia breached the deal in Volnovakha as well, deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk told reporters.
Russian outlet RIA Novosti carried a Russian defence ministry claim that the firing came from inside both communities against Russian positions.
The struggle to enforce the ceasefire shows the fragility of efforts to stop fighting across Ukraine as people continue to flee the country by the thousands.
Ukraine’s military claims that it has killed around 10,000 Russian troops since the invasion on February 24 – far beyond the 498 claimed by Moscow. Kyiv estimates that Russian losses also include 269 tanks, 105 artillery systems, 39 aircraft, 40 helicopters and 409 vehicles.
The Russian defence ministry said on Saturday that its units had opened humanitarian corridors near the two cities encircled by its troops for five hours between 12pm and 5pm Moscow time, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
In Mariupol, citizens would be allowed to leave during a five-hour window, it quoted the city’s officials as saying. The Russian defence ministry said a broad offensive would then continue in Ukraine, RIA said.
The Ukrainian government said the plan was to evacuate around 200,000 people from Mariupol and 15,000 from Volnovakha, and the Red Cross would be the ceasefire’s guarantor.
The evacuation would have been seen as a prelude to a final assault that, if successful, would see the Russian army push north from occupied Crimea and link up with their forces from the east and take control of Ukraine’s coast on the Sea of Azov.
Since Russia invaded on February 24, Moscow has pummelled Ukrainian cities, with officials reporting hundreds of civilians killed. Europe’s largest atomic power plant has even come under attack sparking fears of a catastrophic nuclear accident. But Russia has so far only seized two key cities, Berdiansk and Kherson on Ukraine’s southern Black Sea coast.
Capturing Mariupol represents a bigger prize for Russian forces as it would deal a severe blow to Ukraine’s maritime access and connect with troops coming from annexed Crimea and the Donbas.
Zelensky said: ‘We are doing everything on our part to make the agreement work. This is one of the main tasks for today. Let’s see if we can go further in the negotiation process.’
Mariupol had become the scene of growing misery amid days of shelling that knocked out power and most phone service and raised the prospect of food and water shortages for hundreds of thousands of people in freezing weather.
Pharmacies are out of medicine, Doctors Without Borders said.
The head of Ukraine’s security council, Oleksiy Danilov, had urged Russia to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women and the older adults to flee the fighting, calling them ‘question number one’.
Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts continue as US secretary of state Antony Blinken arrived in Poland to meet the prime minister and foreign minister, a day after attending a NATO meeting in Brussels in which the alliance pledged to step up support for eastern flank members.
Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship state-owned airline, announced that it plans to halt all international flights, except to Belarus, starting on Tuesday in the wake of Western sanctions imposed on Russia.
Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv, March 5, 2022
Police and State Emergency Service (SES) officers work at the scene where several houses have been damaged by an explosion, following an air strike in Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Oblast, March 5, 2022
People crowd as they try to get on a train to Lviv at Kyiv station, Ukraine, March 4, 2022
Residential buildings destroyed as Russian forces pound the port city of Mariupol in Ukraine
A residential building damaged during fierce Russian shelling of the city of Mariupol in Ukraine
Servicemen of pro-Russian militia walk next to a military convoy of armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic on a road in the Luhansk region, February 27, 2022
The country’s aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, had recommended that all Russian airlines with foreign-leased planes halt passenger and cargo flights abroad to prevent the aircraft from being impounded.
But as the United States and other NATO members send weapons for Kyiv and more than one million refugees spill through the continent, the conflict is already drawing in countries far beyond Ukraine’s borders.
Russia continues to crack down on independent media reporting on the war, also blocking Facebook and Twitter, and more outlets say they are pausing their work inside the country.
And in a warning of a hunger crisis yet to come, the UN World Food Programme says millions of people inside Ukraine, a major global wheat supplier, will need food aid ‘immediately’.
Zelensky was set to brief US senators Saturday by video conference as US congress considers a request for $10billion in emergency funding for humanitarian aid and security needs.
In a video message to anti-war protesters in several European cities, Zelensky appealed for help, warning: ‘If we fall, you will fall.’