Ukraine, Russia resume talks as Kyiv fighting nears

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LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian and Ukrainian negotiators held a new round of talks on Monday, even as Russian military forces continued their punitive campaign to capture the Ukrainian capital with fighting and artillery fire on the outskirts of Kiev.

LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian and Ukrainian negotiators held a new round of talks on Monday, even as Russian military forces continued their punitive campaign to capture the Ukrainian capital with fighting and artillery fire on the outskirts of Kiev.

After an airstrike on a military base near the Polish border brought the war dangerously close to NATO’s doorstep, the talks raised hopes for progress in evacuating civilians from besieged Ukrainian towns and bringing emergency supplies to areas without sufficient food, water and medicine.

“Everyone is waiting for news. We will definitely report back in the evening,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a new video address.

The negotiations taking place via videoconference are the fourth round involving high-level officials from both countries and the first held in a week. Previous talks took place face-to-face in Belarus and did not produce breakthroughs to end the fighting in Ukraine or lasting agreements on humanitarian routes.

“Communication is maintained, but it is difficult,” Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted along with a photo of the two sides meeting via video link. Earlier, Podolyak said negotiators would discuss “peace, ceasefire, immediate troop withdrawal and security guarantees”.

Air raid alerts sounded in towns and villages across the country overnight, from near the Russian border in the east to the Carpathian Mountains in the west, as fighting continued on the outskirts from Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said Russian forces shelled several suburbs of the capital, a major political and strategic target for their invasion.

Ukrainian authorities said two people died and seven were injured after Russian forces hit an aircraft factory in Kyiv, setting a large fire. The Antonov factory is Ukraine’s largest aircraft manufacturing plant and is best known for producing many of the largest cargo planes in the world.

Russian artillery fire also hit a nine-story building in the city’s northern Obolonskyi district, killing two other people, authorities said. Firefighters worked to save survivors, laboriously carrying an injured woman on a stretcher away from the blackened and still smoking building.

A city councilor from Brovary, east of Kyiv, was killed in fighting there, officials said. Shells also fell on the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, which saw some of the worst fighting in Russia’s stalled attempt to take the capital, local officials said.

Airstrikes were reported across the country, including in the southern city of Mykolaiv and the northern city of Chernihiv, where heat knocked out most of the city. Explosions also sounded overnight around the Russian-occupied port of Kherson on the Black Sea.

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, firefighters doused the remains of a four-story residential building in a street of apartments and shops. Ukrainian emergency services said a strike hit the building, leaving piles of smoldering wood and metal. It was unclear if there were any casualties.

The beleaguered southern city of Mariupol, where the war has produced some of the greatest human suffering, has remained isolated despite earlier talks about creating aid or evacuation convoys.

“The city is surrounded and the civilians can no longer get out,” said Robert Mardini, director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He said the situation for the beleaguered civilians was “nothing short of a nightmare”.

A pregnant woman who became a symbol of Ukraine’s suffering when she was photographed being carried from a bombed-out maternity hospital in Mariupol has died with her baby, the Associated Press has learned. Images of the woman being rushed to an ambulance on a stretcher had been seen around the world, epitomizing the horror of an attack on the most innocent of humanity.

Ukraine on Monday announced plans for new humanitarian aid and evacuation corridors, though ongoing bombings have thwarted similar efforts in the past week, including on Sunday.

The UN has recorded at least 596 civilian deaths since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, although it estimates the true toll to be much higher. Millions more have fled their homes, with more than 2.8 million crossing into Poland and other neighboring countries in what the UN refugee agency has called Europe’s biggest refugee crisis. since World War II.

Since launching its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has been attacking on several fronts. Russia’s military is larger and better equipped than Ukraine’s, but its troops have faced stronger-than-expected resistance, bolstered by Western weaponry support that has frustrated Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With their advance slowed in several areas, they bombarded several towns with relentless shelling, hitting two dozen medical facilities and a large number of apartment buildings.

The war escalated on Sunday when Russian missiles pounded a military training base in western Ukraine that previously served as a crucial hub for Ukraine-NATO cooperation.

The attack killed 35 people, Ukrainian officials said, and the base’s proximity to the borders of Poland and other NATO members raised fears the Western military alliance could be drawn into the most major land conflict in Europe since World War II.

Speaking on Sunday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it a “dark day” and again urged NATO leaders to establish a no-fly zone over his country, a decision the West rejected for fear of triggering a direct confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.

“If you don’t close our skies, it’s only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall on your territory. NATO territory. On the homes of citizens of NATO countries,” Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine said Moscow’s troops nevertheless failed to make any major advances between Sunday and Monday. The Russian Defense Ministry gave a different assessment, saying its forces had advanced 11 kilometers (7 miles) and reached five towns north of Mariupol, the capture of which could help Russia establish a land corridor to Crimea, which she seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Russia’s latest attack on its former Soviet neighbor has shaken the post-Cold War security order, with unpredictable and dangerous consequences.

The United States says Russia asked China for military equipment to use in Ukraine after the West imposed harsh economic sanctions to stifle the Russian economy and the invasion was met with stronger Ukrainian resistance than foreseen.

The request has heightened tensions over the ongoing war ahead of a Monday meeting in Rome between top aides to the US and Chinese governments. US President Joe Biden is sending his national security adviser to Rome to meet with a Chinese official who fears Beijing is amplifying Russian disinformation and helping Moscow evade Western economic sanctions.

In his talks with senior China foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi, Sullivan will look for limits on what Beijing will do for Moscow.

The Russian cruise missile strike on the military base in western Ukraine also has international significance. The International Center for Peacekeeping and Security near Yavoriv has long been used to train Ukrainian soldiers, often with instructors from the United States and other NATO members. In addition to the 35 dead, 134 people were injured in the attack, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.

The base is less than 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the Polish border and has hosted NATO training exercises, making it a potent symbol of Russia’s longstanding fears that the expansion of the Western military alliance of 30 members to include former Soviet states threatens its security. – which NATO denies.

NATO said on Sunday that it currently has no personnel in Ukraine, although the United States has increased the number of American troops deployed in Poland, NATO member Sullivan, the national security adviser of the White House, said the West would react if the Russian strikes moved outside. Ukraine and hit all NATO members, even accidentally.

Ina Padi, a 40-year-old Ukrainian woman who crossed the border with her family, was sheltering in a fire station in Wielkie Oczy, Poland, when she was awakened by explosions across the border on Sunday morning who shook his windows.

“I understood at that moment, even if we are freed from it, (the war) still pursues us,” she said.

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Associated Press reporters from around the world contributed to this report.

Follow AP coverage of the Ukraine crisis at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Yuras Karmanau, Associated Press































































































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