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“All the people who die from this day on will also die because of you,” Zelenskyy attacked NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone

In a bitter and emotional speech Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has criticized NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine and said it will lift the shackles entirely Russia‘s hands as it escalates its attack from the air.

All people who die from this day forward will also die because of you, because of your weakness, because of your lack of unity,” he said in a late night address.

“The alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian towns and villages by refusing to create a no-fly zone.”

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NATO refused to impose a no-fly zone, warning that it could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.

“All the Alliance could do today was send 50 tons of diesel fuel through its procurement system for Ukraine. Maybe so we could burn the Budapest Memorandum,” Zelensky said, referring to the 1994 security guarantees given to Ukraine in exchange for the withdrawal of its Soviet-era nuclear weapons.

“They will not be able to pay us with liters of petrol for the liters of blood that we have shed for our common Europe.”

The US said the world was dodging disaster and Britain warned that “radioactive clouds” could spread over Europe if the West doesn’t act after Russia’s unprecedented attack on a nuclear power plant.

The attack on Europe’s largest nuclear facility has been condemned by Western leaders and raises the prospect of a widening war in Ukraine. No army has previously attacked an active nuclear facility.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations told an emergency Security Council meeting that the “world narrowly avoided a nuclear catastrophe” and warned that Russian troops are now advancing on Ukraine’s second largest nuclear power plant.

Nine days into the invasion, Russian forces yesterday stepped up bombing of key cities, killing at least 47 civilians in Chernihiv, 140 km north of Kyiv, while continuing to besiege residential areas in Mariupol, Kharkiv and Borodyanka.

Russia also claimed it had recaptured Hostomel Airport, a strategic target outside of Kyiv, although a British intelligence report indicated that it had “renewed fighting” around the airfield. According to the report, the 60 km Russian tank convoy that had reached the area had made little visible progress.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Vladimir Putin’s “reckless actions… could now directly endanger the security of all of Europe”.

Mr Johnson later said the UN’s nuclear watchdog should be stationed on the ground to ensure Ukraine’s nuclear power plants remain safe even if they fall into Russian hands.

“I think the answers are very difficult. We must make it clear to the Kremlin that a civilian nuclear disaster in Ukraine, another Chernobyl, is a disaster for Russia and for everyone.”

He added: “We remember what happened with Chernobyl, the radioactive clouds spread across the continent… I worry about how we can stop a disaster: there are other Ukrainian plants and there are certainly other Ukrainian ones nuclear waste dumps. One of the things we need to consider is how we are going to work together to prevent a catastrophe like this.”

Russian forces seized the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant after attacking it with rockets and gunfire that set part of the complex on fire, threatening a nuclear disaster “ten times worse than Chernobyl,” according to Ukraine’s defense minister.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said before a meeting in Brussels: “NATO will defend all of its allies and territory against a Russian attack. We are a defensive alliance. We do not seek conflict. But if a conflict comes our way, we are prepared and will defend every inch of NATO territory.”

Mr Johnson was woken up in the night by Mr Zelensky, who informed him that the Dnieper nuclear power plant was under attack. Mr Zelensky said he thought the facility had been taken by “Chechen guerrillas and that they were doing something very irresponsible,” said Mr Johnson.

Speaking from a bunker in Kyiv yesterday, Zelenskyy said: “We survived a night that could have stopped history, the history of Ukraine, the history of Europe.

“Radiation doesn’t know where Russia is. Radiation doesn’t know where the borders of your country are.”

The Pentagon said it was up to NATO to determine whether nuclear fallout from an explosion drifting into alliance member states would constitute an attack. According to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, an armed attack on a member state constitutes an attack on the entire NATO and triggers a war.

The Zaporizhia power plant, with six nuclear reactors that supply up to a quarter of Ukraine’s electricity, was seized yesterday in the early hours of the morning after several hours of fighting.

A training center just 150 meters from the reactors was set on fire by either a Russian shell or gunfire.

Officials on both sides said no radioactive leak occurred as a result.

Ukraine had urged the UN Atomic Energy Agency to establish a safe perimeter around Zaporizhia and three other nuclear power plants in the country. But Western allies have refused to establish a no-fly zone that would put NATO in direct conflict with Russia.

NATO last night signaled a policy shift from “deterrence” to defense after Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s secretary-general, said more troops are likely to be sent to the Baltic states.

But NATO allies meeting in Brussels rejected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call for no-fly zones.

“We are not part of this conflict,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“As NATO allies, we have a responsibility to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine because that would be more dangerous, more devastating and cause more human suffering.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also opposed a no-fly zone, saying the only way to introduce one over Ukraine was for NATO forces to shoot down Russian planes.

Amid apparent fears that a major world war could be inadvertently triggered, the Pentagon confirmed yesterday that it has set up a new hotline with Russia’s defense ministry to prevent “miscalculations, military incidents and escalations” in the region.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said: “When we tested it, they picked up and confirmed they got the call. So we know it works. We find it valuable to have direct communication at operational level to reduce the risk of misjudgment and communicate in real time when needed.”

World leaders condemned the attack on the power plant at an emergency UN Security Council meeting. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, said: “By the grace of God, the world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night. We all waited to exhale as we watched the horrific situation unfold in real time.”

She urged the Russian President to “stop this madness, now.”

Russian forces, she added, “are now 20 miles from and closing in on Ukraine’s second largest nuclear facility. So this imminent danger persists.”

The US embassy in Kyiv said on Twitter that the attack on Zaporizhia was a “war crime,” but US embassies across Europe were ordered not to retweet the message for fear of an escalation in the conflict.

Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzia accused Ukraine of setting fire to its own nuclear facility as soldiers retreated, while Mr Putin said in a phone call with Chancellor Olaf Scholz: “The alleged ongoing airstrikes on Kyiv and other major cities are gross propaganda forgeries”.

Meanwhile, the BBC has temporarily suspended the work of its journalists in Russia in response to a new law that threatens to jail anyone suspected of spreading “fake news” about the country’s military.

Additional reporting from PA

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/all-the-people-who-die-from-this-day-forward-will-also-die-because-of-you-zelensky-attacks-nato-over-refusal-to-impose-no-fly-zone-41413985.html “All the people who die from this day on will also die because of you,” Zelenskyy attacked NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone

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