Speaking shortly Nato confirmed it would not offer such aerial protection to Ukraine, out of fear of triggering further conflict with Russia, Volodymyr Zelensky said the military alliance had abandoned his nation.
“All the 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 an address, sometime after midnight in Ukraine.
“The alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages by refusing to create a no-fly zone.”
He added: “All that the alliance was able to do today was to pass through its procurement system 50 tons of diesel fuel for Ukraine.
The comments from Ukraine’s leader, who has repeatedly called for Nato to do more to protect his country, came after the organisation on Friday confirmed it would not protect the country’s skies against Russian jets or bombers.
“The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send Nato planes – fighter planes – into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels.
“If we did that, we’ll end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering.”
His point was echoed by America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was also in Brussels.
“President Biden has been clear that we are not going to get into a war with Russia,” Mr Blinken said.
While Western officials have been struck by the resilience of Ukraine’s military and its citizens in fending off Russian advances, 10 days after Vladimir Putin launched his invasion, there are concerns that in the coming days, Russia will regroup and press harder.
The long column of armoured vehicles bearing down on Kyiv are said to have added to the sense of vulnerability.
“We believe that Nato countries have created a narrative that closing the skies over Ukraine would provoke Russia’s direct aggression against Nato. This is the self-hypnosis of those who are weak, insecure inside, despite the fact they possess weapons many times stronger than we have,” said the Ukrainian leader.
He said Nato’s leadership had given a green light to Russia to launch further attacks.
“[It] was a weak summit, a confused summit, a summit that shows that not everyone considers the struggle for freedom to be Europe’s number one goal,” he added.
“For nine days we have been seeing a fierce war – destroying our cities, shelling our people, our children, residential neighbourhoods, churches, schools, destroying everything that provides a normal life, human life.”
Mr Zelensky is due to speak by Zoom to every member of the US Senate on Saturday morning, presumably to make his case for extra help.
Previously, his entreaties to other leaders have had the power to move hearts, and policy.
It was widely reported that his address to European leaders from a military bunker early after Russia’s invasion when he told them it may be the “last time” they would see him, was a major reason for the strong financial sanctions imposed on Russia.
In his latest speech, he closed by saying Nato would not “be able to pay us off with litres of fuel for the litres of our blood, shed for our common Europe”.
He said Ukrainians will continue to resist and have already destroyed Russia’s plans for a lightning invasion “having endured nine days of darkness and evil”.
“We are warriors of light,” he said. “The history of Europe will remember this forever.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press
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