Russia-Ukraine war live updates: Russian forces step up bombardment of Kyiv while leaders signal some optimism from negotiations

KIEV, Ukraine – Both Russia and Ukraine expressed optimism ahead of another round of talks on Wednesday, even as Moscow forces opened fire on Kyiv and other major cities in a bid to crush deadly resistance. of the Kremlin for a lightning victory.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, went before the US Congress via video and, citing Pearl Harbor and 9/11, begged the United States for more weapons and tougher sanctions against Russia, saying, “We need you right now.”

FULL SPEECH: “We need you right now,” Ukrainian President Zhelensky told the US Congress.

As Moscow’s land advance into the Ukrainian capital has stalled, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a neutral military regime for Ukraine was “seriously discussed” by both sides, while Zelensky said Russia’s demands for an end to it were being met. “More realistic”.

Residents of Kiev gathered in houses and shelters amid a curfew throughout the city that lasts until Thursday morning, as Russia bombs areas in and around the city. A 12-storey apartment building in the center of Kiev was engulfed in flames after being hit by debris.

Russian forces also continued to pound Mariupol, the besieged southern port with 430,000 inhabitants that was attacked for almost the entire three-week war in a siege that left people fighting for food, water, heat and medicine and forcing mass tombs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the operation in Ukraine was “successful, according to pre-approved plans”, and denounced Western sanctions against Russia. He accused the West of trying to “squeeze us, to push us, to turn us into a weak, dependent country.”

Hopes for diplomatic progress to end the war have risen since Zelensky acknowledged in the most explicit terms so far on Tuesday that Ukraine’s goal of joining NATO is unlikely to be achieved. Putin has long portrayed Ukraine’s ambitions in NATO as a threat to Russia.

Lavrov welcomed Zelensky’s comment, saying “the entrepreneurial spirit” that is beginning to emerge in the talks “gives hope that we can agree on this.”

“A neutral regime is being seriously discussed in relation to security guarantees,” Lavrov told Russia’s RBK TV channel. “There are specific formalities that in my view are close to being agreed.”

Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, has said the two sides are discussing a possible compromise idea for a future Ukraine with a smaller, non-aligned army.

However, the prospects for diplomatic progress were extremely uncertain, given the gap between Ukraine’s demand for the complete withdrawal of invading forces and Russia’s dubious goal of replacing Kiev’s Western government with a pro-Moscow regime.

MORE: Pregnant woman photographed on stretcher, baby dies after bombing in Russian maternity hospital [WARNING, GRAPHIC]

Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has denied Russian claims that Ukraine was open to adopting a model of neutrality comparable to Sweden or Austria. Podolyak said Ukraine needed strong allies and “clearly defined security guarantees” to keep it safe.

Another source of contention is the Crimean regime, which was occupied and annexed by Russia in 2014, and the separatist-controlled Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, which Russia recognizes as independent. Ukraine considers both part of its territory.

Speaking before Congress, Zelensky said Russia had “turned the skies of Ukraine into a source of death for thousands of people.” Addressing President Joe Biden directly, he said that “being the leader of the world means being the leader of peace.”

Biden resisted Zelensky’s demands to send warplanes to Ukraine or to establish a no-fly zone over the country because of the risk of a direct war between the United States and Russia.

The fighting has forced more than 3 million people to flee the country, according to United Nations estimates. The UN said 726 civilians had been confirmed dead but that the actual number was higher.

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, has arrived in Ukraine to seek greater access for aid groups and increased protection for civilians.

In the midst of the enormous humanitarian crisis caused by the war, the Red Cross helped evacuate civilians from the besieged areas and delivered 200 tons of aid, including medical supplies, blankets, water and more than 5,200 bags to help “safeguard” the treatment of the dead in a dignified manner “.

MORE: Veteran Fox News war photojournalist Pierre Zakrzewski has been killed in Ukraine, the network said.

Nowhere has he suffered more than Mariupol, in the Sea of ​​Azov. Local officials say the bombings and shelling have killed more than 2,300 people.

The bodies have been buried in trenches and more bodies are found on the streets and in a hospital basement. As humanitarian aid cannot enter the constant bombardment, people burn scraps of furniture to warm their hands and cook the little food that is still available.

Nearly 30,000 people managed to escape the city on Tuesday in thousands of vehicles via a humanitarian corridor, city officials said.

SEE: Opera singers perform Ukrainian national anthem in Lviv

But local authorities said Russian forces had taken hundreds of people hostage at a Mariupol hospital and used it as a shooting range. Officials said the soldiers abducted about 400 people from nearby homes at the Regional Intensive Care Unit and used about 100 patients and staff as human shields.

Kiev regional leader Oleksiy Kuleba said Russian forces had intensified fighting on the outskirts of Kiev and on a highway leading west and across the capital, “kindergartens, museums, churches, apartment buildings and mechanical infrastructure were suffering from pyre”.

Ten people were killed while standing in line for bread in the northern city of Chernihiv, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine announced.

Ukraine also appeared to be successful, with satellite images from Planet Labs PBC analyzed by the Associated Press showing helicopters and vehicles on fire at Herson airport and a Russian-controlled air base following a suspected Ukrainian strike on Tuesday. .

Meanwhile, the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia have returned to Poland after a dangerous train visit to Kyiv to show support for Ukraine.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has said that mass supplies of military equipment must be delivered as quickly as possible to as many countries as possible.

“We have to realize that (the Ukrainians) are also fighting for our independence, for our freedom,” Fiala said. “That’s why we traveled there to show them that they are not alone.”

PHOTOS: Ukrainian refugees leave their homes behind, but not their pets


Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Russia-Ukraine war live updates: Russian forces step up bombardment of Kyiv while leaders signal some optimism from negotiations Source link Russia-Ukraine war live updates: Russian forces step up bombardment of Kyiv while leaders signal some optimism from negotiations

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