Bombing in Ukraine intensifies, president relinquishes NATO

When heads of government invite themselves to a deserted and bombed-out capital… Polish Prime Ministers Mateusz Morawiecki, Czech Petr Fiala and Slovenian Janez Janša traveled to Kiev on Tuesday as representatives of the European Council to “ambiguous the Union’s unconditional support” to Ukraine .

They would meet there in the evening with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently prepared a crucial statement: he declared it necessary to “recognize” that Ukraine would not integrate NATO. He had admitted eight days ago that his enthusiasm for his country’s entry into the Atlantic Alliance had “cooled off” because of the latter’s apparent lack of mutual appetite. Kiev’s membership in NATO has made no significant progress since Bucharest’s 2008 declaration that it had a “calling” to join one day.

A Critical Requirement

A solemn commitment by the Atlantic Alliance (which will hold a summit in Brussels on March 24, with the physical participation of US President Joe Biden) never to allow Kiev into Kiev is one of the Kremlin’s two crucial pre-invasion demands. from Ukraine. The other is the withdrawal of the armed forces of the western Alliance countries from the territories of the eastern countries that joined from 1999 as a result of the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact.

There is no guarantee that this statement by the Ukrainian president will be enough to lay the groundwork for a peace agreement. Kiev is asking for reparations for the destruction of its infrastructure, the latter estimated at $100 billion. And Vladimir Putin, in his speech announcing the February 24 invasion, confirmed that he wanted to “denazify” Ukraine, even though he has recently argued that this does not imply regime change in Kiev. The Russian president is also visibly nurturing a project to include Ukraine as, he recalled on February 24, “Ukrainians and Russians are in effect one people” within “the same historical and spiritual space”.

A besieged capital

The delegation of Slovenian, Polish and Czech heads of government, the first of this level since the start of the invasion, also wants to present on behalf of Europe “a comprehensive package of support measures for the Ukrainian state and society”. This delegation is all the more unusual because it includes a Slovenian head of government who until recently was not very hostile to the Kremlin, another, Polish, Eurosceptic (but not pro-Kremlin for all that) and a third, Czech, Europhile. All three leading countries that emerged from the breakup of the Soviet bloc in the 1990s. Ukraine last week filed an emergency application for European Union membership, a process that normally takes many years to be validated…or not.

The capital, regularly bombed by Russian artillery and nearly surrounded except for a corridor to the south, is under siege, an adviser to the Ukrainian president said. Russian missiles fired at a building killed two people on Tuesday morning. A curfew has been imposed from Tuesday evening to Thursday morning to counter Russian infiltration.

The Russian army continues to shell Ukrainian positions around the capital, as well as in Mariupol, a strategic port on the Sea of ​​Azov, and Karkhiv, the country’s second largest city where much of the streets have now destroyed buildings. The various fronts have barely moved for almost a week. The Ukrainian airport Dnipro was bombed on Tuesday morning. Further west, bombs are also raining on Mykolaiv, the last lock on the road to Odessa, on the Black Sea. Russian warships were en route to Odessa, perhaps in preparation for an amphibious assault.

In addition, the Kremlin imposed financial sanctions (freezing of potential assets in Russia) on US President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.