Mar 31, 2022 - World

Zelensky says Russian invasion of Ukraine is at a "turning point"

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pictured during his regular address to the nation, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky delivering a televised address to the nation in Kyiv earlier this month. Photo: Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday night that Russia's invasion has reached a "turning point," as Russian forces launch attacks in the Donbas region of Ukraine while bombarding Kyiv and other key cities.

Driving the news: Zelensky said during his televised address that he had spoken with President Biden about Ukrainian forces needing more military help, as he noted there's an "ongoing negotiation process" with Russian officials but added "these are still words."

  • He thanked Biden for pledging an additional $500 million in U.S. aid, but said if "we really are fighting for freedom and in defense of democracy together, then we have a right to demand help in this difficult turning point," according to an AP translation.
  • "Tanks, aircraft, artillery systems. Freedom should be armed no worse than tyranny," he added.

Of note: Zelensky asked Australian officials for armored vehicles and tighter sanctions on Russia when he addressed the country's Parliament via video link on Thursday, and thanked the country for the assistance it had already provided.

Meanwhile, Zelensky revealed in his national address that he had recalled Ukraine's ambassadors to Georgia and Morocco.

  • "With all due respect: if there are no weapons, no sanctions, no restrictions for Russian business — please look for another job," he said, suggesting they had failed to press those countries to take tougher action against Moscow.

State of play: As the war entered its sixth week, Ukrainian officials reported Russian forces intensifying attacks on Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv — despite pledges to scale back military operations in order to reach a peace deal with Ukraine.

  • Zelensky said in his national address there had been "an accumulation of Russian troops for new strikes in Donbas," according to an English transcript of his address posted to the presidential website.
  • Kharkiv official Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram that Russian forces had heavily bombarded the region in northeastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours.
  • Heavy fighting continued in Mariupol, but Ukrainian forces remained in control of the center of the besieged southeastern port city, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update Thursday.

What to watch: The International Red Cross tweeted that its teams were due to evacuate residents from Mariupol on Friday.

  • Negotiations between Ukrainian and Russian officials were due to restart on Friday via video link, Ukrainian officials said, per AP.

Go deeper: Dashboard: Russian invasion of Ukraine

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include details of Zelensky's address to Australia's Parliament, Red Cross comment and further military developments.

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