'World War III has already started': Ukrainian journalist blasts Boris for Nato inaction

1 March 2022, 10:40 | Updated: 1 March 2022, 11:51

Boris Johnson was confronted by a Ukrainian journalist today
Boris Johnson was confronted by a Ukrainian journalist today. Picture: Sky

By Asher McShane

A Ukrainian journalist tearfully berated Boris Johnson over the West's failure to protect the country's citizens from attack by Russian forces.

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Mr Johnson was accused of being 'afraid' to defend innocent people as he took a press conference on a visit to Poland.

Daria Kaleniuk said women and children were falling victim to Russian attacks because NATO had failed to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

"You are not coming to Kiev PM… because you are afraid," she said. Ms Kaleniuk added that NATO wanted to avoid World War III but it had "already started".

She told Mr Johnson: “You’re talking about the stoicism of the Ukrainian people but Ukrainian woman and children are in deep fear because of the bombs and missiles which are falling from the sky.”

Boris Johnson and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki
Boris Johnson and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Picture: Alamy

"The Ukrainian people are desperately asking for the West to protect our sky, we are asking for a no fly zone. You are saying in response it will trigger World War Three.

"But, what is the alternative Mr Prime Minister?

"We have planes, we have air defence in Poland, in Romania, at least this shields the West so children and women can come and cross the border.

"It’s impossible now to cross the border, there are 30km queues. Imagine crossing the border with a baby, or with children.

"Britain guaranteed our security under the Budapest memorandum, so you’re coming to Poland, why not to Kyiv?

"Because you are afraid, because NATO is not willing to defend, because NATO is afraid of World War Three, but its is already started.

"And these are Ukrainian children who are there and taking the hit."

Mr Johnson warned in a speech earlier that Putin is increasingly targeting children in his invasion of Ukraine, and using "barbaric and indiscriminate tactics against innocent civilians".

The Russian President was prepared to "bomb tower blocks, to send missiles into tower blocks, to kill children, as we are seeing in increasing numbers", Mr Johnson said. Mr Johnson said Putin was "tearing up every principle of civilised behaviour between states".

He said in the "grim war" Mr Putin had "fatally underestimated" the resistance of the Ukrainians and the resolve of the West to act.

The Prime Minister also paid tribute to the "leadership and courage" of Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president.

Ed Davey: The UK needs to do more to help Ukrainian refugees

"I think he has inspired and mobilised not only his own people, he is inspiring and mobilising the world in outrage at what is happening in Ukraine," Mr Johnson added.

He said there was an "unfolding disaster in our European continent". Mr Johnson said the Polish government and people were doing an "amazing job, an inspirational job" in addressing the humanitarian crisis.

"We in the UK stand ready to help you, we have humanitarian supplies already coming in," he said.

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"I think two planes of medical supplies have already landed, there is more to come."

The UK Government has come under pressure from Tory and opposition MPs to do more to take in Ukrainian refugees.

Mr Johnson told his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki: "We stand ready, clearly, to take Ukrainian refugees in our own country, working with you, in considerable numbers, as we always have done and always will."

A major blast rocked the centre of Kharkiv in the early hours today
A major blast rocked the centre of Kharkiv in the early hours today. Picture: Twitter

The Prime Minister's comments come as a massive Russian military convoy threatens Kyiv.

The vast convoy occupies much of a 40 mile stretch of road north of the Ukrainian capital.

More than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Russian artillery hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, according to a post by the head of the region Dmytro Zhyvytsky on Telegram.

And explosions and gunfire were heard in embattled cities in eastern Ukraine as Russia's invasion met unexpectedly stiff resistance. The Russian military assault on Ukraine was in its fifth day on Monday.

On the border with Belarus, a Ukrainian delegation held talks with Russian officials, though they ended with no agreements except to keep talking.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone with Mr Putin, urging him to halt the offensive.

Meanwhile, Western sanctions triggered by the invasion sent the Russian rouble plummeting, leading ordinary Russians to line up at banks and ATMs. And Russian teams were suspended from all international soccer matches, including qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, pushing the country toward sports pariah status.

Kyiv's outgunned but determined troops slowed Russia's advance and held onto the capital and other key cities - at least for the time being.

US officials say they believe the invasion has been more difficult than the Kremlin envisioned, though that could change as Moscow adapts. Russia still lacked control of Ukrainian airspace.

As talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations wrapped up near the Belarusian border, several blasts could be heard in Kyiv itself.

Russian troops have been advancing slowly on the capital city of nearly three million people.

On Monday, a military convoy consisting of hundreds of armoured vehicles, tanks, artillery and support vehicles was no more than 17 miles from the city centre, according to satellite imagery from the Maxar company.

It was earlier believed to be 17 miles long, but additional satellite imagery showed it stretching for 40 miles.