Kyiv, Ukraine — Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on people worldwide to gather in public Thursday to show support for his embattled country before addressing President Biden and other NATO leaders gathered in Brussels on the one-month anniversary of the Russian invasion.
“Come to your squares, your streets. Make yourselves visible and heard,” Zelenskyy said in English during an emotional video address late Wednesday. “Say that people matter. Freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters,” he urged in the message, recorded in the dark near the presidential offices in Kyiv.
Zelenskyy asked that the alliance provide “effective and unrestricted” support to Ukraine, including any weapons the country needs to fend off the Russian onslaught.
Yes, it is true — we are not in the alliance,” Zelenskyy said in prepared remarks. “It feels like we are in the ‘gray zone’ between the West and Russia. But we defend all our common values. And we are bright people! And we have been defending all these values for a month now! A month of heroic resistance. A month of the darkest suffering.”
Mr. Biden arrived Thursday morning at NATO headquarters to discuss new sanctions against Russia and how to coordinate such measures, along with more military aid for Ukraine, with fellow NATO leaders. The White House soon announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russian defense companies and hundreds of Russian elites, including all 328 members of the Duma, Russia’s parliament.
A senior administration official also said the U.S. is “consulting” with allies to provide anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, something Zelenskyy requested in his remarks.
Four new NATO battlegroups, which usually number between 1,000-1,500 troops, are being deployed in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. Only Ukraine stands between all of those Eastern European nations’ borders, and Russia.
On the eve of a meeting with Mr. Biden, European Union nations signed off on another $550 million in military aid for Ukraine. The White House announced Thursday it was committing another $1 billion in humanitarian aid to help Ukrainians displaced by the conflict, and said the U.S. would welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians to help alleviate the refugee crisis in Europe.
The president is meeting with G7 industrialized nations and then the European Council in a series of meetings later Thursday.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday as Mr. Biden and other leaders arrived that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “made a big mistake, and that is to launch a war against an independent sovereign nation.” Putin, Stoltenberg said, has underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian people, the bravery of the Ukrainian people and their armed forces.”
NATO allies announced Thursday they have extended Stoltenberg’s term until September 30, 2023. It was supposed to expire at the end of the summer. Stoltenberg said NATO allies are doubling down to meet defense spending agreements.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that the U.S. had formally assessed that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, and he said Washington and its NATO allies would work to hold them accountable. Mr. Biden had already said he believes Putin is a war criminal.