Zelenskyy: ‘Weak’ NATO will be partly responsible for Ukraine fatalities as it fails to impose no-fly zone

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy has criticised NATO for failing to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

In a strongly worded, emotional speech, the president told the alliance: “Starting from today everyone who dies will die because of you as well, because of your weakness, because of your disunity.”

Mr Zelenskyy also claimed that the absence of a no-fly zone has effectively “given the green light for the bombardment of Ukrainian cities and villages”.

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NATO warns of ‘more deaths’

NATO has been facing fresh calls to enforce a no-fly zone after Russian troops launched a “dangerous” attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – but leaders ruled out the introduction of such measures at a summit on Friday.

The alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, fears it would elevate the risk of a wider war in Europe as NATO planes would have to shoot down Russian aircraft.

Ukraine invasion: Live updates

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What happened at Europe’s largest nuclear site?

In other developments:

• Large explosions were reported in Chernihiv in the early hours of this morning as Russia pressed on with its assault on the Ukrainian city
• Mr Zelenskyy is due to talk to US senators on a video conference call later today
• The US embassy in Ukraine has described Russia’s assault on Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant as a “war crime”
Russia has blocked Facebook and Twitter, and Washington says it is “deeply concerned” the move aims to stop Russian citizens getting information
The latest UN figures for those displaced abroad from Ukraine stand at over 1.2 million people

Russian controlled areas and the sites of Ukraine's four nuclear power plants.

NATO summit was ‘weak and lost’, Zelenskyy says

In a video message released on Friday night, Mr Zelenskyy suggested that the lack of a no-fly zone shows not all NATO members “consider the fight for the freedom of Europe its main priority”.

Describing Friday’s summit as “weak” and “lost”, he added: “For nine days we’ve seen a harsh war. Our cities are being destroyed, our people and children, residential areas, churches, schools are being shot. Everything that provides normal people’s life is being shot.”

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Ukraine invasion: What happened on day nine

Mr Stoltenberg says NATO is increasing support for Ukraine, but warned stepping in directly could make the situation even worse.

He said: “We have a responsibility… to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating and would cause even more human suffering.”

Boris Johnson has also suggested that a no-fly zone isn’t a viable option, with the prime minister warning: “The UK would be engaged in shooting down Russian planes… that’s not something we can do.”

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‘More death, more destruction’ – NATO

West criticised for taking no-fly zone off the table

The RAF’s former commander of operations has criticised Western leaders for opposing a no-fly zone.

Former Air Marshal Greg Bagwell said he completely recognised “all the risks” such action brings, but said taking the option off the table “just makes the job of the bad guy easier”.

He told the PA news agency that NATO doesn’t necessarily have to be the organisation that enforces a no-fly zone.

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Air Marshal Bagwell said: “I was disappointed to see that everybody immediately turned this into NATO versus Russia.

“Most no-fly zones I’m aware of, and I’ve flown on, have been under UN Security Council mandates or resolutions.”

He added: “The reason why I think it has got to be UN is I think it needs that universal mandate… this is not a binary fight between [Vladimir Putin] and NATO. This is him versus the world.”

The former RAF commander also said that the terms of a no-fly zone should be outlined publicly and made “crystal clear” – including that any Russian aircraft, flying in Ukrainian airspace, would be considered hostile and shot down.

This would allow humanitarian aid to be safely flown into Ukraine.

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Zelenskyy calls for European support

Protests take place in cities across Europe

Demonstrations condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have taken place in cities across the continent – Paris, Prague, Lyon and Frankfurt among them.

Mr Zelenskyy addressed the protesters in a video, where he asked crowds not to be silent about what was happening in his country.

Speaking via a translator, he said: “Don’t turn a blind eye on this. Come out and support Ukraine as much as you can. If we fall, you will fall.

Protests against the war have taken place across Europe - including in Lisbon
Image:
Protests against the war have taken place across Europe – including in Lisbon

“And if we win, and I’m sure we’ll win, this will be the victory of the whole democratic world, this will be the victory of our freedom, this will be the victory of light over darkness, of freedom over slavery.

“And if we win, we will become as blossoming as Europe. And Europe will be flourishing more than ever.

“All of you are Ukrainians today, thank you for this.”

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Read more:

Sky News team’s harrowing account of their violent ambush in Ukraine this week
‘Welcome to Hell’ – the message facing Russian invaders as Kyiv prepares for the fight of its life
Exhausted women and children shelter in tents after fleeing Putin’s war
What day nine of Russia’s war tells us about what might happen next

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