Congress on Wednesday. NATO will discuss stepping up defenses. Mr. Zelensky urged more leaders to visit leaders staged a defiant show of support for Ukraine on Tuesday, traveling to its besieged capital, Kyiv, even as a relentless Russian artillery bombardment left apartment towers in the city ablaze, forcing terrified residents to flee into the street with only the clothes on their backs. The dramatic visit by the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, which unfolded in tight secrecy as they crossed the Ukrainian border by train after dawn, was a strikingly personal gesture. But it caught other European leaders off guard, angering some and baring uncomfortable divisions in how best to demonstrate Western solidarity with Ukraine. It also came as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia disparaged the second consecutive day of negotiations with Ukraine, undercutting the faint glimmers of hope raised from talks the day before that both sides were looking for a way to halt the war. The Kremlin slapped retaliatory sanctions on President Biden and other senior American officials. Mr. Biden announced his own plans to travel to Europe next week to showcase the unity of the NATO alliance in the face of Russian aggression.
A spokesman for Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said the three visitors were “de facto” representing the European Union in Ukraine. In Brussels, however, officials said the trio did not have the E.U.’s blessing, and some European diplomats complained that the trip was too risky, given the Russian forces encircling Kyiv. Others said they admired the audacity of the group, which also included Prime Minister Petr Fiala of the Czech Republic and Prime Minister Janez Jansa of Slovenia, casting it as a powerful symbol of the backing for Ukraine among countries on Europe’s eastern flank, where the specter of Russian aggression looms larger than in Paris or London. Still, for all the symbolism of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine’s leaders under the threat of Russia’s rockets, Ukraine was facing the devastating barrage largely on its own. The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, imposed a 35-hour curfew, starting on Tuesday evening, which suggested the capital was entering an even more difficult phase of its grinding struggle to hold off Russian troops and tanks.
“This is their attempt to annihilate the Ukrainian people,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in an emotional video address to the Canadian Parliament, repeating his plea for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over the country. “It is an attempt to destroy our future, our nation, our character.” Mr. Zelensky asked the lawmakers to imagine if the CN Tower in Toronto were shelled like the towers in Kyiv. His language has become more pointed, even scolding, with each speech to a Western audience, revealing his frustration with leaders who have resisted more direct military involvement out of fear that it would entangle them in a wider conflict with Russia. The Ukrainian leader, who has become a hero to many in the West, is scheduled to speak via video to Congress on Wednesday, where he is expected to amplify his pleas for more help and increase the pressure on the United States and its allies. Mr. Biden is planning to announce $800 million in new security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, according to White House officials. The administration last week announced $200 million in security assistance for Ukraine and has made available a total of $2 billion in such funding. On Tuesday evening, the Polish state broadcaster carried video of the Czech, Slovene and Polish leaders meeting Mr. Zelensky and other officials across a long table, with Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow flag behind them.