As Russian attacks continued across Ukraine, diplomats from the two nations were scheduled to arrive in Turkey on Monday for talks, with President Volodymyr Zelensky saying his country was “ready” to discuss adopting neutral status, while the Kremlin offered little hope for an agreement that would end five weeks of fighting.
In an interview on Sunday with Russian journalists, Mr. Zelensky said that Ukraine was willing to discuss lifting restrictions on the Russian language and adopting a neutral geopolitical status. But he insisted that any deal would need to be validated by a referendum to be held after Russian troops withdraw, and that other countries would need to provide his nation with security guarantees.
“We are ready to go for this,” he said, but he pledged not to cede Ukrainian sovereignty and said Ukraine would not discuss two of Mr. Putin’s main, vaguely defined demands, the demilitarization and “de-Nazification” of the country.
Mr. Zelensky’s glimmer of optimism contrasted with the grim assessment of diplomacy given by the Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, who said that weeks of meetings had made “no significant progress.” Still, Mr. Peskov told reporters on Monday that the talks in Istanbul, the first in-person meeting between the two sides in more than two weeks, were important.
Here are some other major developments:
As large explosions were reported in Kyiv early on Monday, the Ukrainian military said that Russian forces were continuing to try to capture highways and key towns east and northwest of the capital. The attacks came even as Ukrainian officials warned that Russia could be shifting its focus to securing control of eastern Ukraine, potentially to split the country between regions it controlled and regions it did not.
Britain’s defense intelligence service said Monday that there had been no significant change in the Russian military’s posture in Ukraine, as the invasion had been slowed by logistical failures, a tough Ukrainian defense and a “lack of momentum and morale.”
The mayor of Mariupol said Ukrainian soldiers were still defending the city from Russian troops that have surrounded and bombarded it for weeks. Defense analysts have warned the strategic southern port could soon fall into Russian hands.
The Oscars held a moment of silence for the people of Ukraine, but Mr. Zelensky, who had lobbied to speak remotely during the ceremony Sunday night, did not make an appearance.
Schools in Kyiv reopened online on Monday, the city’s authorities said, but teachers were encouraged to give light workloads to students already under strain from the Russian invasion.
March 28, 2022, 7:16 a.m. ET
March 28, 2022, 7:16 a.m. ET
The mayor of the besieged port of Mariupol said Ukrainian forces were still defending the city and accused the Russian military of committing “genocide.”
“The task was to wipe the city off the face of the earth along with its inhabitants,” Mayor Vadym Boychenko said of the Russian troops in an interview with the UNIAN news agency that was posted on Sunday. “This is genocide, there is no other way to call what is happening.”
Mr. Boychenko insisted that the city, which has been bombarded for weeks by the Russian troops that have surrounded it, has not been captured.
“Today the city of Mariupol remains a Ukrainian city,” he said. “Our military is doing everything to keep it that way in the future.”
Still, defense analysts have said the city could soon fall into Russian hands. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on Sunday that he had urged soldiers defending the city to withdraw if their survival was at risk, but said they had remained because they feared abandoning civilians and their dead and wounded comrades.
Among the dead are at least 300 people who were killed in a Russian strike on a drama theater that was being used as a shelter. Mr. Boychenko said that because of continuing shelling, the site had not yet been cleared of bodies.
The mayor said that about half the population of the largely Russian-speaking city, which had 540,000 residents before the war began, has evacuated. He spoke of terrible conditions endured by those who remain, saying that Russian troops had methodically knocked out power, water and communications to the city, and destroyed nearly 90 percent of the houses.
And he said the City Council’s figure of more than 2,100 civilians killed in Mariupol was outdated.
“I don’t want to scare anyone,” he said. “I can say for sure that this figure is already much higher.”
March 28, 2022, 6:11 a.m. ET
March 28, 2022, 6:11 a.m. ET
Reporting from London
Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, raised concern over President Biden’s comment Saturday that President Vladimir V. Putin could not remain in power. “Indeed, this statement makes us worry,” Peskov said, adding that the Kremlin would “continue to closely monitor” any statements made by Biden. American officials have been quick to clarify that Biden’s ad-lib remark — delivered during a speech in Poland — was not intended as an appeal for a regime change.
March 28, 2022, 5:50 a.m. ET
March 28, 2022, 5:50 a.m. ET
The Kremlin’s spokesman painted a grim picture of the status of talks between Russia and Ukraine, saying that so far “no significant progress” has been made. Speaking ahead of another round of negotiations, scheduled for this week, Dmitri S. Peskov said that the very fact that discussions will be held in person for the first time in weeks is important because it allows the talks to be conducted “in a more concentrated way.”
March 28, 2022, 5:46 a.m. ET
March 28, 2022, 5:46 a.m. ET
Reporting from London
Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, warned that the activity of Russian forces around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has put “hundreds of thousands of Europeans” at risk of radiation and called on the U.N. to establish a mission to take immediate measures to demilitarize the exclusion zone around the plant.
Russia’s stock market opened on Monday and was expected to allow all listed stocks and corporate bonds to trade for four hours. It was the first time the Moscow Exchange’s full listing of several hundred stocks had been available for trading since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
But certain restrictions instituted last week when the exchange reopened for two days will continue: Foreigners will still be unable sell shares, and there is a moratorium on short selling.
The benchmark MOEX Russia index was down 1.2 percent by midday in Moscow.
Last week’s reopening of stock trading on the Moscow Exchange was limited to only 33 listed stocks. The MOEX is down 20 percent from the day before the war, and more than 30 percent lower since the start of the year.
A U.S. official called the limited open “a Potemkin market reopening.”
The going is likely to remain rough for Russia’s publicly traded companies. Some of their owners are under Western sanctions. Some with shares trading in markets other than Moscow have had their overseas stock prices fall to near zero. S&P Global Market Intelligence recently estimated that the average public company in Russia has a 1-in-5 chance of defaulting on its debt.
March 28, 2022, 5:01 a.m. ET
March 28, 2022, 5:01 a.m. ET
Reporting from Washington
Responding to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for protests, crowds gathered in major cities across Europe and the United States on Sunday. In Washington, Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador, spoke outside of the Lincoln Memorial.
March 28, 2022, 3:33 a.m. ET
March 28, 2022, 3:33 a.m. ET
Andrés R. Martínez
Reporting from Seoul
Heineken said it plans to leave Russia, following its decision earlier this month to stop investments there. The brewer said owning the business in Russia “is no longer sustainable nor viable in the current environment.”
March 28, 2022, 1:27 a.m. ET
March 28, 2022, 1:27 a.m. ET
New Zealand said Monday that its military will assist with intelligence related to the war in Ukraine, including analyzing satellite images. The country will supply intelligence efforts “taking advantage of the time zone difference to help with key tasks during their night time and our day time.”
March 27, 2022, 8:09 p.m. ET
March 27, 2022, 8:09 p.m. ET
Schools in Kyiv will reopen online on Monday, the city authorities announced, aiming not only to resume education but also to provide “psychological support” and to distract children from the war, Valentyn Mondryivsky, deputy chairman of the Kyiv state administration, said in a news release. He added that teachers had been instructed not to overburden students with assignments to keep from causing additional anxiety.
March 27, 2022, 7:31 p.m. ET
March 27, 2022, 7:31 p.m. ET
It was a remarkable moment in the war in Europe: President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine gave a 90-minute-long Zoom interview on Sunday to four prominent journalists from Russia, the country invading his.
Hours later, the Kremlin responded. A government statement notified the Russian news media “of the necessity to refrain from publishing this interview.”
Journalists based outside Russia published it anyway. Those still inside Russia did not. The episode laid bare the extraordinary, and partly successful, efforts at censorship being undertaken in Russia by President Vladimir V. Putin’s government as his bloody invasion of Ukraine enters its second month, along with Mr. Zelensky’s attempts to circumvent that censorship and reach the public directly.
In the interview, Mr. Zelensky offered a graphic description of what he claimed was the Kremlin’s disregard for both Ukrainian and Russian lives, to the point, he said, that the Russian army was slow to pick up the bodies of its fallen soldiers.
“First they refused, then something else, then they proposed some sorts of bags to us,” Mr. Zelensky said, describing Ukraine’s efforts to hand over the bodies of Russian soldiers. “Listen, even when a dog or a cat dies, people don’t do this.”
Mr. Zelensky generally speaks Ukrainian in public — his country’s official language — but he is a native Russian speaker, and he has repeatedly switched into Russian in the video addresses that he posts to social media, seeking to encourage Mr. Putin’s critics inside Russia. But Sunday’s interview marked the first time since the war began that Mr. Zelensky had spoken at length with Russian journalists, in their language.
The journalists were Ivan Kolpakov, the editor of Meduza, a Russian-language news website based in Latvia; Vladimir Solovyov, a reporter for Kommersant, a Moscow-based daily newspaper; Mikhail Zygar, an independent Russian journalist who fled to Berlin after the war began; and Tikhon Dzyadko, the editor of the temporarily shuttered, independent television channel TV Rain, who had left Moscow for Tbilisi, Georgia.
After they finished the interview, the journalists posted about it on social media, promising that they would soon publish it. Several hours after that, the Russian telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadzor, released a statement directing Russian news outlets not to publish the interview, and warning that an inquiry had been launched against the reporters involved to “determine their responsibility.”
Even by the standards of contemporary Russia’s arbitrary law enforcement, the statement was remarkable, offering no legal pretext to justify the order not to publish the interview. But in the wake of the law signed by Mr. Putin early this month — potentially punishing news reporting on the Ukraine invasion that deviates from the Kremlin narrative with as much as 15 years in prison — the government directive had an impact.
Novaya Gazeta, the independent newspaper whose editor, Dmitri A. Muratov, shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year, decided not to publish the interview, even though Mr. Zygar asked a question on Mr. Muratov’s behalf. Unlike many other Russian journalists, Mr. Muratov has stayed in Russia and kept his newspaper operating despite the new law, even though that has meant using the Kremlin’s terminology of calling the war a “special military operation” and not an invasion.
“We have been forced not to publish this interview,” Mr. Muratov said in a phone interview, noting that his newspaper was based in Russia and was under the jurisdiction of Russian law. “This is simply censorship in the time of the ‘special operation.’”
Kommersant, as of early Monday in Moscow, also had not published the interview on its website; Mr. Solovyov did not respond to a request for comment. It was unclear whether he or his newspaper would face legal consequences for conducting the interview.
But Mr. Kolpakov’s publication, Meduza, as well as Mr. Dzyadko and Mr. Zygar, all now based outside Russia, did publish it, both in text form and on YouTube. While the Meduza website is blocked in Russia, YouTube remains accessible. (Probably not for long, many analysts believe, with Facebook and Instagram having been blocked earlier this month.)
Videos of the interview had been viewed more than a million times within a few hours of being published, offering a very different picture of the war to Russians than what they see daily on their televisions screens. Most independent news organizations have either been banned or forced into exile, while polls show that most Russians rely on state television for their news — in which the war in Ukraine is cast as a righteous crusade against extreme nationalism and necessary to pre-empt a threat emanating from an expanding NATO.
“It was very important for us to speak, for him to be able to address the Russian audience,” Mr. Zygar said of Mr. Zelensky in a telephone interview from Berlin, citing the Kremlin propaganda tropes of Ukraine as overrun by Russia-hating Nazis. “For him, it appears, this also was important.”
Even as the fighting continued, Ukraine and Russia on Sunday agreed to conduct a new round of negotiations this coming week in Istanbul. It will be the first time that senior officials from both countries meet in person in more than two weeks, after a series of long sessions conducted by video link in the interim.
With Russian troops having failed to achieve a swift victory and seemingly bogged down, Mr. Zelensky is seeking a negotiated end to the war, without ceding Ukrainian sovereignty. But the two sides still appear to be far apart. He said in Sunday’s interview that Ukraine was not discussing two of Mr. Putin’s main, vaguely defined demands — the demilitarization and “de-Nazification” of Ukraine.
He said that Ukraine would, however, be willing to discuss lifting restrictions on the Russian language and adopting a neutral geopolitical status. Any deal, he said, would need to be validated by a referendum to be held after Russian troops withdraw.
He described a potential deal as including “security guarantees and neutrality, the non-nuclear status of our state.”
“We are ready to go for this,” he said.
In the interview, Mr. Zelensky blamed Mr. Putin for manufacturing the enmity between Russia and Ukraine. He said the war would have the opposite effect of what Mr. Putin apparently planned — marking a definite split between the Russian and Ukrainian people, rather than somehow reuniting them.
“This is not simply a war, this is much worse,” Mr. Zelensky said. “A global, historical, cultural split has happened over this month.”
Mr. Zelensky’s descriptions of the violence of Russia’s invasion ran directly counter to the Kremlin narrative, which accuses Ukrainians of firing on their own cities and blames them for any civilian casualties and urban destruction. He said that the port city of Mariupol was “littered with corpses — no one is removing them — Russian soldiers and Ukrainian citizens.”
He also accused the Russian government of forcibly taking more than 2,000 children from Mariupol, saying that “their location is unknown.” He said that he had told his officials that Ukraine would halt all negotiations with Russia “if they will steal our children.”
Mr. Putin has received grossly exaggerated reports about the attitude of the Ukrainian people toward Russia and its government, Mr. Zelensky said.
“They probably said that we are waiting for you here, smiling and with flowers,” he said, adding that the Russian government “does not see Ukraine as an independent state, but some kind of a product, a part of a bigger organism that the current Russian president sees himself as the head of.”
After Meduza, Mr. Dzyadko and Mr. Zygar published the interview, the Russian prosecutor general’s office released its own threat. It said it would conduct a “legal assessment” of Mr. Zelensky’s statements and their publication, given “the context of mass anti-Russian propaganda and the regular placement of false information about the actions of the Russian Federation” in Ukraine.
“It would be funny if it wasn’t tragic,” Mr. Zelensky said in a video posted to his account on Telegram, commenting on the Kremlin’s frantic censorship efforts. “This means that they are nervous. Perhaps they saw that their citizens are beginning to question the situation in their own country.”
LVIV, Ukraine — Mariana Vladimirtsova was finally settled in western Ukraine after evacuating her native Kharkiv, which has been pummeled by Russian bombs since the first days of the war. Now she and her family are fleeing again because their new makeshift home in Lviv is near one of several targets struck by Russian missiles on Saturday night, upending the region’s sense of security.
“We were only just starting to feel settled here,” she said as she stood with her husband, her two children and her husband’s mother on the platform at Lviv’s train station Sunday evening, about to board for Przemysl, just across the border in Poland. They were still deeply shaken by the memory of what they experienced in Kharkiv, in Ukraine’s northeast. “We were so close to the explosions there,” she said.
She lamented their departure, especially the fact that she would have to leave her husband behind because martial law prevents men of military age from leaving the country. But they had decided that it was safer for the children if Ms. Vladimirtsova took them over the border.
Until Saturday, the only target near Lviv that had been hit was an airplane repair factory near the city’s airport. Before that, the nearest attack had come at a military training base near Yavoriv, more than an hour’s drive away.
But now the war was moving closer to their doorstep. On Sunday, Ms. Vladimirtsova and others living in Lviv woke and began surveying the damage from an overnight barrage of missile attacks on a fuel storage site and a tank repair facility. The fuel site in the city’s northeast was completely destroyed, according to Lviv’s regional governor, Maksym Kozytsky.
The new strikes have intensified fears that the city in western Ukraine may no longer be a safe haven. “It is one thing to see the war on television and it is another thing to experience it and feel that it is much closer right now,” said Yuliya Kuleba, 38, who lives near the fuel storage site. “We are worried for our kids.’’
Nataliya Tatarin swept broken glass from the small shop she runs near the fuel storage facility, as firefighters lugged hoses to the site.
“We heard three big explosions, and everything started to shake and fall off the shelves,” said Ms. Tatarin, 42. She ran to her nearby home, where her three children were sheltering.
“There was a lot of fog and it was all just black,” she said. “My 7-year-old daughter was shaking and vomiting for most of the night,” she added, as tears welled in her eyes. The roof of the store had cracked and she was worried that it could cave in.
By early Sunday, most of the fires in Lviv had been extinguished. The local authorities said the missiles had been fired from Sevastopol, a port on the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.
The attacks on Saturday evening came as President Biden delivered a fiery speech in Warsaw, castigating Russia for its invasion. Lviv is about 35 miles from Poland.
“I think with these strikes the aggressor wants to say hello to President Biden,” Lviv’s mayor, Andriy Sadoviy, said on Saturday night.
An independent Russian website calculated that on Saturday Russian forces had sent a record 52 missiles from the occupied Black Sea port of Sevastopol, and at least 18 from Belarusian territory. The website, The Insider, found that of the 70 rockets, at least eight landed, meaning that Ukraine had also repelled a significant amount. Those figures could not be independently verified.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that its military had struck 67 “military objects” in Ukraine in the past 24 hours. It said that it had also destroyed a military installation in Lviv that helped upgrade and modernize missile systems, radar stations and electronic warfare equipment. Ukrainian authorities did not confirm this and it could not be independently verified.
Some people in Lviv said a tank repair factory had been hit in Saturday’s strike. The uniformed men guarding the site would not provide any information on Sunday afternoon. In a small shop nearby, a man in fatigues was overheard telling a shopkeeper about how he and his comrades saw the missiles flying in the air and hid under the tanks inside the facility.
Since the war began in late February, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled west to Lviv and beyond, trying to escape the worst of the fighting, which was concentrated in the east.
Alyona Puzanova arrived in Lviv on March 11 after two harrowing weeks in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, the capital, where there was intense fighting with Russians.
“Yesterday when they hit Lviv, the place I felt safe, I started to worry that it is going to be a new Bucha,” said Ms. Puzanova, 35, as tears streamed down her face. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Despite her fears, Ms. Puzanova said she wanted to remain in Lviv and volunteer, instead of accompanying her mother to a village a few miles away from the city center that they hope will be safer.
“I want to help here, there is so much to do,” said Ms. Puzanova, who previously worked as a waitress and restaurant manager.
Before Saturday, many people ignored air raid sirens in Lviv. They did not seek shelter, and could be seen strolling about Rynok Square, a UNESCO world heritage site and the city’s ancient heart, unflinchingly raising their coffee cups.
But at the Dovzhenka Center, a former movie theater now hosting people who have been displaced, the families staying there take the sirens seriously. On Saturday, everyone piled behind the stage when the sirens blared, Julia Muzhik, a volunteer at the bomb shelter, said.
Violetta Kalashnikova said after being in Kharkiv, where she left behind two apartments and her beauty salon, the sound of every plane made her flinch.
But she was grateful to be far from that city, where bombs are falling indiscriminately, and which is only 30 miles from the Russian border.
“In Lviv,” she said, “At least you are far enough away from where the missiles are being fired, whether it is the Black Sea or Belarus, that you have time for the system to detect the missiles and 15 or 20 minutes to hide.”
Back near the fuel storage facility, Ms. Kuleba said that the soil in her yard, where she had planted vegetables, was covered in oil. She said she hoped that this would be the last missile strike and that the oil would be cleaned away soon.
Ms. Tatarin, the shop owner, was inconsolable. She showed a video of her daughter, asking Russian troops not to attack children. The young girl held a heart-shaped piece of paper that she had colored in with yellow and blue, the colors of the flag of Ukraine.
Ms. Tatarin said her pro-Russian mother-in-law, who lives in Crimea, from where the missiles were reportedly fired, now sees her son as a “traitor” and believes he was “brainwashed” by his wife.
“We are totally alone now, my husband and I,” she said. “And each air raid siren stops my breath.”
Anna Ivanova contributed reporting from Lviv.
March 27, 2022, 5:00 p.m. ET
March 27, 2022, 5:00 p.m. ET
The New York Times
Firefighters worked Sunday at an oil terminal on the outskirts of Lviv in western Ukraine that was hit in an overnight barrage of missiles. The mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadoviy, said he thought the strikes signaled that “the aggressor wants to say hello to President Biden who is in Poland.”
Mr. Biden had met with Ukrainian refugees in Poland on Saturday before giving a speech in Warsaw.
A day earlier, Dima Neron, 19, lay in a Kyiv hospital. He lost three fingers on his left hand and suffered multiple fractures to his left leg when a bomb exploded not far from where he was charging his phone on his family’s farm in the Chernihiv region.
On the northern outskirts of Kyiv, a Ukrainian soldier walked near the remnants of a Russian tank at a frontline position on March 25.
For the past four weeks, photographers with The New York Times and other news organizations throughout Ukraine have chronicled the invasion.
KYIV, Ukraine — He has spoken with two movie stars by video call from the bombarded and encircled city of Kyiv.
His aides lobbied the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for an Oscar night show of support. He rereleased his own television show on Netflix in the middle of the war.
President Volodymyr Zelensky, the actor turned wartime leader of Ukraine, has dedicated most of his public appearances to appeals to Western nations for lethal weaponry to fight the Russians: tanks, jets and missiles.
But Mr. Zelensky, who before he became president had starred in romantic comedies and performed stand-up routines, has also pressed for celebrities and artists to speak up for his country, in what aides say is a worthwhile effort to solidify Ukraine’s global soft power advantage over Russia.
“We live in the modern world, and we know that opinion makers and celebrities are important,” said Ekaterine Zguladze, a former deputy minister of interior now involved in the Ukrainian government’s effort to win support from artists, musicians and celebrities. “Not only politicians shape the world.”
Ms. Zguladze added: “Right now, there exists genuine solidarity around the world for Ukraine. And this solidarity is not because of the heartbreaking images of destroyed cities and human tragedy, but because of the values we all share.”
But Ukraine’s appeal to the academy, the organization that awards the Oscars, encountered drama of its own.
Before the show, organizers said the war would be noted and the human toll honored, but did not commit to a video appearance by Mr. Zelensky, said Brian Keith Etheridge, a sitcom writer based in Los Angeles. He helped coordinate the Ukrainian government’s outreach to the academy, with help from Mila Kunis, an actress of Ukrainian origin, and her husband, Ashton Kutcher.
“The concern that we were told is, they don’t want to overly politicize the show,” Mr. Etheridge said. “If Zelensky just says ‘thank you’ it will remind people, and it could raise millions of dollars. It’s such a giant platform just to have his face show up.”
Sean Penn, who had been filming a documentary in Ukraine when the war broke out, called for a boycott of the Oscars if Mr. Zelensky is not permitted to appear by video and vowed to smelt his own awards if the academy snubs the Ukrainian leader. The award statues are made of gold-plated bronze.
If the Oscar producers did not allow an appearance for “the leadership in Ukraine, who are taking bullets and bombs for us, along with the Ukrainian children that they are trying to protect, then I think every single one of those people, and every bit of that decision, will have been the most obscene moment in all of Hollywood history,” Mr. Penn told CNN in an interview.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, the producers said they intended to commemorate the war’s toll but did not commit to a video appearance by Mr. Zelensky.
“We’re going to be very thoughtful about how we acknowledge where we are in the world,” Will Packer, a producer of the Oscar ceremony, said Thursday at a news conference.
The comedic actress Wanda Sykes, one of the ceremony’s co-hosts, noted of Mr. Zelensky, “Isn’t he busy right now?”
Mr. Zelensky did not appear on the show. Ms. Kunis did speak about the war when she appeared on the telecast to introduce a Reba McEntire performance of her song from Ms. Kunis’s movie “Four Good Days.”
Before turning the show over to Ms. McEntire, Ms. Kunis said, “recent global events have left many of us feeling gutted.”
“Yet when you witness the strength and dignity of those facing such devastation, it’s impossible to not be moved by their resilience,” Ms. Kunis continued. “One cannot help but be in awe of those who find strength to keep fighting through unimaginable darkness.”
The show also displayed three screens of gold text on black backgrounds after Ms. McEntire’s performance, calling on viewers to donate to the humanitarian effort.
“While film is an important avenue for us to express our humanity in times of conflict, the reality is millions of families in Ukraine need food, medical care, clean water and emergency services,” the message read. “Resources are scarce, and we — collectively and as a global community — can do more.”
While Mr. Zelensky’s aides had pressed for support during the show in whatever form it takes, seeking any avenue to win public backing in the West, the value of celebrity support in a shooting war is not universally acknowledged in Ukraine.
“Ultimately, it’s important what is happening on the ground,” Oleksandr Danylyuk, a former secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said. “Everybody is doing what they can. I don’t know if one more speech of Zelensky will make a difference. But it’s good those who initiate it want to do it. Everybody wants to help in any way possible.”
But Mr. Danylyuk said that “in the end, you need results,” like supplies of fighter jets, tanks or missiles for the Ukrainian Army.
Mr. Zelensky has pressed on all fronts to convey to a broad audience, and particularly to countries that are providing weaponry, the moral imperative of supporting Ukraine in the war.
“In general, Zelensky is really following the news from Hollywood and looking for opportunities for support,” Serhiy Leshchenko, an adviser to the president’s chief of staff, said in an interview.
The push for backing for Ukraine during the Oscars began a week ago, after Mr. Zelensky spoke on a video call from Kyiv with Mr. Kutcher and Ms. Kunis, to thank the couple for raising $35 million for Ukrainian refugees and humanitarian aid in a GoFundMe campaign, Mr. Leshchenko said.
Ms. Kunis most recently starred in “Breaking News in Yuba County” and has a planned movie release by Netflix, “Luckiest Girl Alive.”
“Ukrainians are proud and brave people who deserve our help in their time of need,” she wrote in the fund-raising appeal. “This unjust attack on Ukraine and humanity at large is devastating and the Ukrainian people need our support.”
After the video call, Mr. Zelensky’s aides sought a last-minute slot at the Oscar ceremony.
Mr. Zelensky has always had a keen sense of image and storytelling in politics. Earlier this month, he said he was aware that his repeated televised appeals for resistance, and continued presence in the beleaguered capital, had turned him into a symbol of bravery in many countries.
The Oscars are also a natural fit for an appeal by his government for humanitarian assistance, as many of his top aides are also movie industry veterans.
The chief of the presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, was a media lawyer and movie producer. The head of the domestic intelligence agency, Ivan Bakanov, had been the director of the Kvartal 95 studio. A chief presidential adviser, Serhiy Shefir, was a screenwriter and producer whose major credits included a hit romantic comedy film, “Eight First Dates,” and a television series, “The In-laws.”
Before becoming president of Ukraine, Mr. Zelensky played a president in his own television series, “Servant of the People,” which was rereleased on Netflix this month. The character, a teacher, is propelled to the presidency after he goes on a tirade against corruption, which is filmed by his students in a video that goes viral.
Maria Varenikova contributed reporting from Kyiv, and Matt Stevens from New York.
More than 1,100 civilians have been killed since the war began in Ukraine, the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights said in a report on Sunday.
The 1,119 civilians confirmed dead include 99 children, according to the report. Another 1,790 civilians have been injured, including 126 children, the U.N. said.
The report noted that the U.N. believes the actual figures of deaths and injuries are “considerably higher,” but that ongoing fighting has delayed receipt of some information and that other reports are still being confirmed. (For that reason the casualty toll does not include the besieged city of Mariupol.) The U.N. noted a report from Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office that said 139 children have been killed and at least 205 have been injured.
Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by the use of explosive weapons that can impact a wide area, such as shelling from heavy artillery, missiles and airstrikes, according to the report.
In an address on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said Russian forces were deliberately killing civilians and targeting residential areas, shelters, educational facilities and churches.
“Russian troops receive just such orders: to destroy everything,” Mr. Zelensky said in a translation of his remarks shared by his office. “No one will forgive them. There will be responsibility.”
Russia has denied its military has purposely targeted civilians.
An estimated $63 billion in Ukrainian infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed as of March 24, Ukraine’s Parliament said in a Twitter post on Sunday. The losses include more than 4,400 residential buildings, 138 health care facilities, eight civilian airports and 378 education institutions. The cost was calculated by the Kyiv School of Economics.