Amid growing humanitarian crisis, Zelensky calls for more peace talks

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his call for peace talks as the humanitarian crisis grows. He blamed Putin for intentionally blocking aid and evacuation corridors as thousands of people remain trapped in Mariupol as fighting continues. NPR reporter Jason Beaubien joins from Lviv.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    For more from Ukraine, I spoke earlier with NPR reporter Jason Beaubien, who was in Lviv.

    Jason, tell me, first of all, where have you been the last few hours, where have you been in the city?

  • Jason Beaubien:

    I've actually been down in a bomb shelter for the last few hours, just got out of there like 15 minutes ago. We've had two air raid drills so far today and yesterday, you know, we were down in the bomb shelter and they were actually cruise missiles that were striking out at the airport. So the sirens go off, everybody's quite diligently respecting them.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Yeah. So while there are people who are trying to flee, there are also these air raid sirens that are telling them to hunker down.

  • Jason Beaubien:

    Yeah. And it's particularly difficult for people who are out on the road, you know, the people that are trying to be moving around. They aren't in a position to necessarily get to somebody's basement. People who are in places like Lviv, like me, are able to, you know, they know where they are and people who are even out and about oftentimes will end up just sheltering in some neighbor's basement. But it is much more difficult for the people who are on the road and trying to move out of some of the more intense fighting that's happening to the East.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Tell me a little bit about that fighting. What are the attacks that have become of concern?

  • Jason Beaubien:

    Yeah, there continues to be, you know, missile attacks, mortars around the capital, around Kyiv. It doesn't seem like the Russian forces are actually making a lot of progress, but you're getting more and more shells that are landing on residential compounds closer and closer to the capital, you know, down in Mariupol. The city is still besieged. Some people are managing to get out of there. Most of the fighting, the intense fighting is happening on the east. But even today, you know, there was an airstrike out near the border with Romania, which hadn't happened before. This hypersonic missile that the Russians launched hit a couple of miles from a hotel that some of my colleagues were heading out to in the next few hours. So things are changing very rapidly. You're getting attacks in places that you weren't before. Yeah, it's still very fluid.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What's so special about a hypersonic missile?

  • Jason Beaubien:

    Well, we haven't really seen these used much at all before the Russians claim that this is the first one used in this conflict. These things can travel at 3,800 miles per hour. They're able to maneuver while they're in flight. They're very difficult to intercept. It's a new breed of missile. And so that's what's so concerning about this. It's a little bit odd that they're only rolling it out now. Ukrainian officials are saying that Russia's basically using Ukraine as a testing ground for some of these experimental missiles that they're dragging out, but it did seem like this one is effective in Ukraine. Officials did confirm that it struck a munitions depot and appeared to hit its target.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Jason is the use of this raising new concerns?

  • Jason Beaubien:

    I mean, obviously, this is very concerning because we all know that that Russia has nuclear weapons, so this idea that they are rolling out new weapons to try attacking a different part of the country, it's concerning, you know, there's the potential that they could be rolling out something else that we don't know what it is.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Jason, the people in the bomb shelter that you've been spending time with, I mean, where are they now in terms of their interest in staying or leaving? And just psychologically, what's the past couple of weeks done to them?

  • Jason Beaubien:

    People are just very emotional, very emotional about what's happening, very emotional about feeling in a state of fragility here, not knowing when this is going to end, when they will be able to return to their homes, particularly the people who are displaced. Here in Lviv, this is a city of about 700,000 people, and there's two hundred thousand additional people who come in here and fled from other parts. It's a very hard time for Ukrainians.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    NPR's Jason Beaubien joining us from Lviv. Thanks so much.

  • Jason Beaubien:

    You're welcome.

Listen to this Segment