Kyiv—Ukraine’s leader secured $1 billion in new US military aid, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles used against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia was building a new Cold War wall across Europe “between freedom and bondage,” after his government accused invading forces of bombing a theater sheltering many civilians and marked with the word “children.”
US President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal,” triggering fury in the Kremlin, as the Russian leader also lashed out at “traitors” at home who he said were undermining the war effort.
NATO members have so far resisted Zelensky’s pleas for direct involvement through a no-fly zone over Ukraine, warning it could lead to World War III against nuclear-armed Russia.
They have stepped up military aid instead, with Biden announcing the United States would also help Ukraine acquire longer-range anti-aircraft weapons.
Zelensky addressed the German parliament a day after a speech to the US Congress.
He reached back to that Cold War era and drew on a 1987 speech in Berlin by US president Ronald Reagan: “Dear Mr Scholz, tear down this Wall,” as he implored German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“It’s not a Berlin Wall—it is a Wall in central Europe between freedom and bondage and this Wall is growing bigger with every bomb.”
In an overnight video message, Zelensky also urged Russians to lay down their arms, three weeks into an invasion that has seen the West impose severe sanctions against Putin’s regime.
“If your war, the war against the Ukrainian people, continues, Russia’s mothers will lose more children than in the Afghan and Chechen wars combined,” he said, referencing the thousands lost in those conflict.
In Manila, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated Thursday that the Philippines would remain neutral in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
“We must maintain this neutrality. That is not our fight. Let us not interfere,” he said.
Duterte reiterated his concern that Russia’s invasion may escalate into a nuclear war.
“If it goes nuclear, that’s the end of the world. It’s really the end of everything,” the President said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said some 329 Filipinos from Ukraine have been repatriated to the Philippines, while 41 nationals in various safe borders are awaiting repatriation as of March 17.
The DFA said the latest batch of repatriates are the 19 seafarers of the ship Chariana L who arrived in the country on March 16. At present, a total of 370 Filipinos have been taken out of Ukraine since the war started in February.
The agency ordered alert level 4 or mandatory evacuation to Filipinos in all areas in Ukraine on March 7 due to the “rapidly deteriorating security situation” in the Eastern European country.
Britain’s diplomatic mission to the UN tweeted that Russia was committing “war crimes and targeting civilians” in Ukraine, after the UK requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting.
“Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine is a threat to us all,” it said, saying the request was made with the US, France, Albania, Norway and Ireland.
But Putin, at a televised government meeting Wednesday, insisted the invasion was “developing successfully,” adding “we will not allow Ukraine to serve as a springboard for aggressive actions against Russia.”
He also condemned the Western sanctions as “economic blitzkrieg,” after Russia was frozen out of much of the Western financial system.
The Kremlin also rejected an order by the top UN court to halt its Ukraine invasion.