Putin needs ‘some kind of victory’ by May 9 to mark Ukrainian MP’s birthday
Russia is accused of ‘terrible’ war crimes in Bucha as masses of civilians were murdered after Russian troops withdrew from the northern Ukrainian town. Unarmed citizens were found strewn in shallow graves both in Bucha and other areas north of Kyiv that had been occupied by Russian troops, many of them with their hands tied behind their backs, without armed and defenseless. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the Kremlin-ordered attack an act of genocide.
He said his country’s refusal to be subdued by Russia was the reason “we are being destroyed and exterminated”, describing the war in a television interview as “the torture of the whole nation”, while the minister Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba said Russia was “worse than Daesh”.
Witnesses to the alleged atrocities told the media of the horrors they witnessed, including shooting men fleeing the city through humanitarian corridors and killing civilians at will, including children.
This is a far cry from Russia’s argument for invading Ukraine: that it free the country’s people from a tyrannical Nazi ruler and a massive Western allied organization, NATO.
Russia’s prolonged aggression against Ukraine is, according to the Kremlin, a response to NATO’s encroachment in Eastern Europe.
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In 2008, the team made a commitment to make Ukraine a member and later brought the country into its 2020 Enhanced Opportunity Partner Interoperability Program.
But Natia Seskuria, a research associate at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), said she believed Russia’s NATO argument was a veil hiding the Kremlin’s true intentions of ensuring that the foreign close to Russia does not become democratic.
This, she said, included countries like Georgia, which was also promised NATO membership in 2008 – an event that many believe contributed to Russia’s invasion of the country. the same year.
She told Express.co.uk: “First of all, I don’t think this whole military adventure is about NATO, because the Russians are trying to sell it.
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“I think it’s about Ukraine’s democratic future and Putin’s fear of having westernized democratic states in the neighborhood.
“It also concerns Georgia because we saw 14 years ago how it was invaded because of its Western aspirations and nothing more.
“President Zelensky explained his reasoning [for dropping Ukraine’s NATO bid] which is true in a way — that it’s not the Ukrainians who don’t want to join NATO, but NATO that doesn’t want to offer membership.
“And so, Ukraine is kind of at an impasse, because it’s facing an existential challenge.
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“This rejection of the commitment to NATO membership is very worrying for countries like Georgia because, just like in Ukraine, aspirations for NATO and EU membership have been written into the constitution, and the absolute majority of Georgian citizens – around 80% – are behind their application for the country’s membership in NATO and the EU.
On March 15, Mr. Zelensky acknowledged for the first time that Ukraine would not become a member of NATO.
It came as Kyiv was pounded by Russian missiles and the invading force appeared to be tightening its grip on the capital.
At least five people were killed at the time, prompting the city to impose a 35-hour curfew.
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Mr Zelensky made the concession during a meeting with leaders of the new Joint Expeditionary Force, a UK-led initiative bringing together ten North Atlantic nations to create a rapid crisis response capability.
He said: “It is clear that Ukraine is not a member of NATO, we understand that.
“For years we have heard of the seemingly open door, but we have heard before that we will not enter it, and these are truths and must be acknowledged.”
One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands before launching his offensive against Ukraine was that its NATO membership be barred indefinitely.
Mariupol: Ukraine prepares for new Russian attacks in the south of the country
But the scale of his attack has been widely interpreted as undermining that reasoning, and has led many to conclude that what Putin really wants is regime change in Ukraine.
For now, Russia appears to be pulling out of northern Ukraine, after pledging last week to scale back its assault.
However, world leaders, including Mr Zelensky, have suggested it was simply a delaying tactic for the Russian military to regroup.
The Ukrainian president himself has said that his forces are preparing for further aggression in southern and southeastern Ukraine, as Putin is expected to focus his efforts on areas that Russia already dominates.