Ukrainian forces push back on Russia’s incursion as NATO allies pledge additional support

President Biden and NATO allies met in Brussels Thursday to reaffirm the alliance's solidarity in the face of the ongoing and brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces made gains on Russian troops throughout the country. Jane Ferguson reports from Kyiv with support from the Pulitzer Center.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Biden and NATO allies met in Brussels today to reaffirm the alliance's solidarity in the face of the ongoing and brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    Mr. Biden said the United States and NATO would respond if Russia uses weapons of mass destruction, a new and sobering warning of what is at stake as war engulfs Europe's largest nation.

    Meantime, Ukrainian forces pushed back against Russian forces throughout the country today.

    Jane Ferguson begins our reporting from the capital, Kyiv.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    The Ukrainian military says the burning vessel in this video is a Russian ship struck by Ukrainian forces. It was docked in Berdyansk and can carry dozens of tanks, armored vehicles, and hundreds of troops, another major loss adding to Russia's already steep logistical challenges.

    But, last night, Moscow stepped up its assault further north on the suburbs of Kyiv. What looks like a shimmering firework in the night sky actually the brutal incendiary weapon white phosphorus. It's typically used as a smokescreen, but can burn hot enough to melt flesh.

    In the south, Ukraine is trying to retake the city of Kherson and pushing Russia away from Mykolaiv. In the north, Ukrainian counteroffensives forestall an assault on the capital, a city many military analysts expected to fall within days of Russia's invasion. Now, one month into the conflict, the Ukrainian flag still flies in Kyiv and her residents are adapting to wartime life.

    Some, like Andriy, pine for the past.

  • Andriy Zyuba, Kyiv Resident (through translator):

    I feel hopelessness. One doesn't know what to do next, how to behave. I try to keep calm and only hope that everything will be over and all will be fine, as it was before.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    But cafe owner Evhenii decided to not wait any longer to open is shop.

  • Evhenii Sosnovskyi, Cafe Owner (through translator):

    It was last Thursday or Friday that I understood that it's not a matter of one week or two weeks, perhaps not even a month. Relatives, family, the military needs this support.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    More support is also needed on the humanitarian front. The United Nations says more than half of all Ukrainian children, some 4.3 million, have been displaced by the month-long war.

    To showcase unity against Russia, today in Brussels, a flurry of diplomacy, as President Biden and Western leaders attended a trio of emergency summits, including a meeting of NATO's North Atlantic Council.

  • Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General:

    We are determined to continue to impose costs on Russia to bring about the end of this brutal war.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    NATO agreed to strengthen its Eastern European defenses. Four new battle groups will go to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia, doubling NATO's presence.

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, whose term was extended today into late next year, also promised to help Ukraine prepare against potential attacks with weapons of mass destruction.

  • Jens Stoltenberg:

    We see that Russia is trying to create some kind of pretext accusing Ukraine, United States, NATO allies for preparing to use chemical and biological weapons.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    But citing a long list of weapons he says are vital for his country, including tanks and planes, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on allies to do more.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President (through translator):

    This morning, phosphorus bombs were used. Adults were killed again and children were killed again. The alliance can still prevent the deaths of Ukrainians from Russian occupation by providing us with all the weapons we need.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    Members of the G7, a group of the world's richest democratic nations, also met separately today to discuss sanctions evasion and how to further impair the Russian Central Bank.

    But, at a meeting of European leaders, divisions remained over imposing an embargo on Russian gas and oil imports.

  • Alexander De Croo, Belgian Prime Minister (through translator):

    It would have a devastating impact on the European economy. I think this is not necessary.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    Meanwhile, the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Russian elites, including 40 defense companies and half of Russia's legislature.

    President Biden also announced plans to accept 100,000 refugees and additional funding to help other countries with their migrant surges.

  • President Joe Biden:

    This is an international responsibility. And the United States, as the leader — one of the leaders in the international community, has an obligation to be engaged — to be engaged and do all we can to ease the suffering and pain of innocent women and children, and men, for that matter, throughout — throughout Ukraine and those who have made it across the border.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    He also pledged to respond if Putin attacked with chemical weapons.

  • President Joe Biden:

    We would respond. We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    And Biden defended the sanctions against charges that they're insufficient.

  • President Joe Biden:

    Sanctions never deter. The maintenance of sanctions — the maintenance of sanctions, the increasing the pain, and the demonstration.

    We will sustain what we're doing not just next month, the following month, but for the remainder of this entire year. That's what will stop him.

  • Jane Ferguson:

    As world leaders meet to discuss how to further punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the war here enters its second month.

    Ukrainian forces continue to hold on in the face of overwhelming firepower from the Russian army, and in some places advance against them. But there is still a sense here on the ground that, no matter how successful their defenses, the war will only really end when Putin decides — Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Thank you, Jane, for your important reporting.

    Jane's reporting and our ongoing coverage of the war in Ukraine is supported by the Pulitzer Center.

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