Kyiv: As Russian forces advance on strategic points in southern Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities on Thursday called on compatriots to launch a guerrilla war against Russian forces. In a video message posted online, Ukrainian presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovich urged men to cut down trees and destroy the rear columns of Russian troops.
The Russian military said Thursday it had control of Kherson, which has a population of 280,000 people, making it the first major city to fall since a Russian invasion began last week.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Enerhodar, the site of Europe’s largest nuclear plant, says Ukrainian forces are battling Russian troops on the edges of the city. Enerhodar is a major energy hub on the left bank of the Dnieper River and the Khakhovka Reservoir that accounts for about one-quarter of the country’s power generation due to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is Europe’s largest.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a news conference on Thursday called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet him, salting the proposal with sarcasm. “I don’t bite. What are you afraid of?” Zelenskyy said at the news conference. Zelenskyy said it was sensible to have talks: “Any words are more important than shots.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine that it must quickly accept the Kremlin’s demand for its “demilitarization” and declare itself neutral, formally renouncing its bid to join NATO. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke for 90 minutes on phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. The official at the French Elysee presidential palace said Putin told Macron the conflict would continue “until the end” unless negotiations meet his terms.
IAEA board ‘deplores’ Russian invasion
The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors backed a resolution on Thursday that “deplores” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urges it to let Ukraine control all its nuclear facilities, diplomats said.
The resolution urged Moscow to “immediately cease all actions against, and at, the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine, in order for the competent Ukrainian authorities to preserve or promptly regain full control”.
Refugee Crisis for EU
With close to a million refugees fleeing Ukraine already in the eastern nations of the European Union, the EU member states decided Thursday to grant them temporary protection and residency permits.
EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson said Thursday that millions more were expected to move into the 27-nation bloc to seek shelter, employment, and education for the young. Johansson called the quick adoption of the protection rules a “historic result” and said, “the EU stands united to save lives.”
The U.N. human rights office says its latest count of casualties in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last week has risen to 249 civilians killed and 553 injured.