Biden in Europe ahead of NATO summit as Russian shelling pummels Kyiv

President Biden is in Brussels preparing for a trio of summits Thursday with NATO, the European Union and the G-7. More sanctions against Russian politicians and oligarchs are on the way, as the allies continue coordinating support for Ukraine. This as the Ukrainian counteroffensive continues around the capital, and as Russian forces remain stalled. Jane Ferguson reports from Kyiv.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It has now been almost four weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine. And, tonight, President Biden is in Brussels, Belgium, together with his national security leadership.

    They will be part of a trio of summits tomorrow with NATO, the European Union and the G7. More sanctions against Russian politicians and oligarchs are on the way, as the allies continue coordinating support for Ukraine.

    Meantime, the Ukrainian counteroffensive continues around the capital, Kyiv, as Russian forces remain stalled in many sectors of the country. And NATO officials today said that the alliance estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since the invasion began.

    Here again is Jane Ferguson reporting from Kyiv.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    Firefighters in Kyiv received the most emergency calls today since Russia's invasion began, another sign that Moscow is not letting up its assault on the capital.

    Local resident Svetlana's home is now smoldering rubble, only the charred remains of a past life.

  • Svetlana, Kyiv Resident (through translator):

    We were in the bedroom, and I was sitting in the armchair watching television. When it exploded, I ran away to the kitchen. Then there was already everything damaged. Windows were blown, smoke and smell of burning. I could not take anything from the rooms, and we ran outside.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    She was able to walk away. Many others were not. In the besieged city of Mariupol, subjected to the fiercest Russian onslaught of the war, some fortunate enough to make the rare humanitarian corridor out arrived in Zaporizhzhia last night by bus.

    Getting trapped civilians out of Mariupol has become the gravest humanitarian emergency of this war. Now the Ukrainian government says Russian forces have seized a convoy of 11 empty buses on their way to Mariupol to bring people to safety.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President (through translator):

    For several weeks, we have been trying to organize stable humanitarian corridors for Mariupol's residents, and almost all our attempts have been, fortunately, obstructed by shelling or deliberate terror by Russian occupiers.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    But a senior U.S. defense official said today Ukrainians continue to push Russia away from Kyiv. Russian forces remain outside Chernihiv and Kharkiv, and are now increasing their offensive in the Donbass region.

    The U.S. said Russian attacks could include the use of chemical weapons, something which President Biden warned of again today.

  • President Joe Biden:

    I think it is a real threat.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    Earlier this month, and with no evidence, Russia accused the U.S. of developing chemical weapons in Ukraine, raising Washington's fears that Moscow may launch such an attack.

    Julianne Smith is the U.S. ambassador to NATO.

    Julianne Smith, U.S. Ambassador to NATO: What worries us about those types of statements and accusations is, they may be again laying kind of a trap — or not a trap, but a pretext for them to do something more or much worse inside Ukraine.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    The NATO alliance expected to bolster its expected to bolster its presence in Eastern Europe, with new troops deployed to Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Poland had also called for an international peacekeeping mission in Ukraine, a move that, today, Russia said could escalate the conflict.

  • Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister (through translator):

    It will lead to the direct clash between the Russian and NATO armed forces that everyone has not only tried to avoid, but said should not take place in principle.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    And to avoid the war from spreading, Jens Stoltenberg emphasized its commitment to protecting all allies, including from the risk of a nuclear war.

  • Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General:

    Russia must stop its nuclear saber-rattling. This is dangerous and it is irresponsible. We convey a really clear message to Russia that a nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    But Russia's nuclear forces are on high alert. And, last night, the Kremlin spokesman would not rule out the nuclear option.

    Dmitry Peskov, Spokesman for Vladimir Putin: We have a concept of domestic security. So, if it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be used, in accordance with our concept.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    For Ukrainians, there is little security anywhere.

    Yet hopes of rebuilding their cities endure, even while they are still under attack. A cellist played in Kharkiv today, raising funds for humanitarian aid and efforts to repair his city when this war is over.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jane Ferguson in Kyiv, Ukraine.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The "NewsHour"'s reporting from Ukraine is supported in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.

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