By ADAM SCHRECK and ANDREA ROSA
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine told residents of its industrial heartland to leave while they still can and urged Western nations to send “weapons, weapons, weapons” Thursday after Russian forces withdrew from the shattered outskirts of Kyiv to regroup for an offensive in the country’s east.
Russia’s six-week-old invasion failed to take Ukraine’s capital quickly and achieve what Western countries say was President Vladimir Putin’s initial aim of ousting the Ukrainian government. Russia’s focus is now on the Donbas, a mostly Russian-speaking region in eastern Ukraine.
In Brussels, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged NATO to provide more weapons and help his war-torn country prevent further alleged atrocities like those reported in Kyiv’s northern outskirts. Ukrainian authorities are working to identify hundreds of bodies found in Bucha and other towns after Russian troops withdrew and to document evidence of possible war crimes.
“My agenda is very simple. … it’s weapons, weapons and weapons,” Kuleba said as he arrived at NATO headquarters for talks with the military organization’s foreign ministers.
“The more weapons we get and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved,” he said.
The Western alliance is striving to avoid actions that might pull any of its 30 members directly into the war. Still, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged member nations to send Ukraine more weapons, and not just defensive arms.