“Kyiv is special. If we protect Kyiv, we will protect the state. This is the heart of our country, and it must keep beating,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday. He gave a stirring video address to European parliament, the day after he signed a formal application for Ukraine seeking EU membership.
“Our people are motivated and we are fighting for freedoms and our lives,” Zelensky said. “We are fighting for our survival,” he added while urging the body to “prove” that they stand with Ukraine. This as he’s urging both NATO and the US to impose a No-Fly Zone, an appeal which both so far have rejected.
Satellite imagery being widely reported on Tuesday morning suggests a massive column of Russian infantry many miles in length is now en route ready to bear down to the Ukrainian capital. Estimates as to its size have varied, but there’s consensus it’s at least many, possibly dozens of miles, long.
CNN describes it as “A massive 40-mile-long Russian military convoy — made up of armored vehicles, tanks, towed artillery and other logistical vehicles — has reached the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, according to satellite images from Maxar Technologies.”
Kiev officials have said the city has erected fortifications, while much of the civilian population has sought the safety of shelters or underground bunkers ahead of what’s expected to be a large-scale final Russian assault, also after two other large cities have in the past days come under heavy rocket barrage and shelling.
— BNO News (@BNONews) March 1, 2022
The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, warned the people of the city as well as the world on Tuesday that “the enemy is on the outskirts of the capital,” and emphasized that national forces are “preparing to defend Kyiv.”
“Our armed forces, Territorial Defense Forces, are fighting heroically for our land,” Klitschko said. “Fortifications and checkpoints have been built at the entrances to the city. I ask everyone to keep calm. Do not go outside unnecessarily and stay in shelters in case of alarm,” he added.
Moscow has meanwhile reaffirmed that its military operation will not stop until it meets the objectives of “demilitarizing” Ukraine. However, talks just inside Belarus on Monday between a Ukrainian delegation and Russian delegation left agreeing to keep talking. Those talks lasted a reported five hours.
The Russian side has since confirmed that this second round of potential ceasefire talks will take place Wednesday, March 2. Ukrainian and Russian media are confirming the next round:
Another Ukrainian media outlet, Glavkom, citing sources in the Ukrainian delegation, disclosed the terms advanced by the sides during the first meeting. It said that Russia allegedly demanded Ukraine commit to paper its off-bloc status at the parliamentary level and organize a referendum on this matter. Apart from that, the Russian side demanded Ukraine recognize the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in the administrative borders of the corresponding regions and drop its demand that Crimea should be returned to Ukraine. Ukraine, according to Glavkom, demanded a ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops from its territory.
At the same time, on an international level communications between Russia and the West appear to be spiraling toward non-existent. With the European airspace closure around Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov opted to address an assembly of the UN Human Rights Council remotely, instead of traveling.
More and more media pundits and US officials have begun to call for a West-imposed No Fly Zone:
Perhaps the biggest risk-calculation/moral dilemma of the war so far. A massive Russian convoy is abt 30 miles from Kyiv. The US/NATO could likely destroy it. But that would be direct involvement against Russia and risk, everything. Does the West watch in silence as it rolls?
— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) February 28, 2022
Even the video speech prompted a mass-walkout, as Fox described:
As soon as the U.N. president turns over the floor to Lavrov, dozens of diplomats stand and leave the meeting chamber without a word.
Lavrov said he was “compelled” to make his address by video after the European Union restricted his “freedom of movement.”
Currently Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov is warning that Russia has preparations underway to launch a “large-scale information and psychological operation” against Ukraine, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Tuesday. “Its goal is to break the resistance of Ukrainians and the Ukrainian army with lies,” Reznikov said in the statement.