Zelensky says "God will not forgive" as Russian shelling increases across Ukraine
"Instead of forgiveness, there will be judgment," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video shared on the last Sunday before Lent.
Driving the news: “Today is Forgiveness Sunday. But we cannot forgive the hundreds upon hundreds of victims. Nor the thousands upon thousands who have suffered," according the latest video that the leader posted to his Telegram account on Sunday night local time. "God will not forgive. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never."
- "Today, a family of four, parents and two children, were killed in Irpin as they were trying to leave the city," Zelensky said. "We will not forgive. We will not forget."
The latest: The outskirts of Kyiv, the second largest city of Kharkiv, Chernihiv in the north and Mykolaiv in the south came under heavy shelling later in the day on Sunday local time, Zelensky adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said on Ukrainian television.
- “The latest wave of missile strikes came as darkness fell,” Arestovich said.
- The planned evacuation of civilians on Sunday from the Ukrainian coastal city of Mariupol was canceled for the second time after Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of violating of a limited ceasefire agreement, the New York Times reported.
The International Atomic Energy Agency warned on Sunday that Russian forces have placed the staff at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power station under their direct command and are requiring any actions taken by plant management to be pre-approved by the Russian commander.
- They have also taken steps to restrict the staff's ability to ability to communicate with the outside world.
N0-fly calls increase: Zelensky in a video posted earlier on Sunday repeated his call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine: "If you do not do that, if you at least do not give us aircraft for us to be able to protect ourselves, there can only be one conclusion: You want us to be slowly killed."
- "We are people and it is your humanitarian duty to protect us," he added.
- Western leaders have repeatedly ruled out imposing a no-fly zone, saying it will drastically escalate the situation and threatens to directly draw NATO forces into a conventional war with a nuclear power.
- Russian separatist forces, meanwhile, have accused Ukraine of violating the ceasefire agreement, per Reuters.
In the absence of a no-fly zone, the U.S. is looking at ways that it can help facilitate the supply of fighter jets to Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.
- A proposed deal that would have seen former Eastern Bloc countries in the EU deliver Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine fell apart earlier this month.
- Putin on Saturday said that Moscow will consider any declaration of Ukraine as a no-fly zone to be "participation in the armed conflict."
- "That very second, we will view them as participants of the military conflict, and it would not matter what members they are," Putin said.
The big picture: A third round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine will be held on Monday, Ukraine's chief negotiator posted on Facebook Saturday.
- French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone for nearly two hours with Putin on Sunday, Reuters reported. The French president urged his Russian counterpart to guarantee the continued protection and security of Ukraine's nuclear sites.
- Ukraine will present its case before the International Criminal Court on Monday. Russia will be given the chance to respond on Tuesday.
- ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said on March 2 that he would immediately launch an investigation into allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed in Ukraine.
Blinken told CNN from Moldova on Sunday: "[W]e’ve seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians, which would constitute a war crime."
- The Secretary of State said it was documenting the evidence to help support "the appropriate organizations and institutions" investigating the matter, like the International Criminal Court.
Zoom out: President Biden’s advisers are discussing a possible visit to Saudi Arabia this spring to help repair relations and convince the Kingdom to pump more oil, Axios' Hans Nichols has learned.
- The U.S. is also working with its European allies to look into the possibility of banning Russian oil imports, Blinken said during an appearance Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
- The announcement comes as bipartisan momentum builds in Congress.
"The people in my state of West Virginia, believe it's basically foolish for us to keep buying products and giving profit and giving money to Putin to be able to use against the Ukrainian people," Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Sunday during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."
- "Why wouldn't we lead? Why wouldn't we show the resolve we have? I understand there's more dependency in the world. But you know, here's the problem, we have the ability to ratchet up and be able to backfill," said the West Virginia Democrat who cosponsored legislation along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would lean on domestic drilling.
In addition to cutting off Russian imports, Manchin in particular has been advocating for more domestic oil and gas production as a way to reduce the country's reliance on other countries, per Axios' Andrew Freedman. Since the war in Ukraine began, the oil and gas industry has been advocating that the administration take certain steps to boost production.
- However, U.S. crude oil production is projected to hit a full-year record high in 2023, despite the Biden administration's policies to try to transition toward a clean energy economy.
- Manchin plans to hold a hearing in the Senate Energy Committee, which he chairs, this week on the links between energy production and national security.