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Russia’s onslaught continues amid optimism over talks – Press Telegram

By ANDREA ROSA

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Russian forces destroyed a theater in Mariupol on Wednesday where hundreds of people were sheltering and pouring fire on other cities, Ukrainian officials said, although both sides expressed optimism about efforts to negotiate an end to the war. combat.

There was no immediate news of any deaths or injuries in what Mariupol City Council said was an airstrike on the theater. Satellite images of Monday showed the word “children” written in large white letters in Russian in front of and behind the building, space technology company Maxar said.

In Kiev, residents crowded into houses and shelters amid a citywide curfew that will last until Thursday morning as Russian troops bombed areas of the city and surrounding areas, including a 2.5-kilometer residential neighborhood ( 1.5 miles) from the presidential palace. A 12-storey apartment building in central Kiev exploded in flames after being hit by shrapnel.

And 10 people died while queuing to buy bread in the northern city of Chernihiv, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine.

For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared before the U.S. Congress on video and, invoking Pearl Harbor and 9/11, called on the United States for more weapons and tougher sanctions against Russia, saying, “We need you right now.” .

U.S. President Joe Biden has announced that the United States will send an additional $ 800 million in military aid to Ukraine, including more anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons and drones. He also called Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” in his harshest condemnation of the Russian leader since the invasion began.

International pressure on the Kremlin increased and its isolation deepened when the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, ordered Russia to stop attacking Ukraine, although there was little hope that it would comply. In addition, the Council of Europe of 47 nations, the continent’s most important human rights body, has expelled Russia.

Although Moscow’s ground advance on the Ukrainian capital seemed largely stalled, Putin said the operation was being carried out “successfully, according to pre-approved plans” and denounced Western sanctions against Moscow. He accused the West of trying to “squeeze us, pressure us, make us a weak and dependent country.”

Another round of talks between the two sides was scheduled for Wednesday. After Tuesday’s talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the two sides were “seriously discussing” a neutral military status for Ukraine, while Zelenskyy said Russia’s demands to end the war were making them “more realistic.”

Hopes for diplomatic progress to end the war have risen after Zelenskyi acknowledged on Tuesday in the most explicit terms so far that Ukraine is unlikely to meet its goal of joining NATO. Putin has long described Ukraine’s aspirations for NATO as a threat to Russia.

Lavrov welcomed Zelenskyy’s comment and said that the “entrepreneurial spirit” that is beginning to emerge in the talks “gives us hope that we can agree on this issue.”

“He is seriously discussing a neutral status in relation to security guarantees,” Lavrov told Russian television. “There are concrete formulations that in my opinion are close to being agreed upon.”

Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said the parties were discussing a possible compromise for a Ukraine with a smaller, non-aligned army.

However, the prospects for a diplomatic advance were very uncertain, given the gap between Ukraine’s demand that the invading forces withdraw completely and Russia’s suspicious goal of replacing the west-facing Kiev government with a pro-government regime. -Moscow.

Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak denied Russian claims that Ukraine was open to adopting a model of neutrality comparable to that of Sweden or Austria. Podolyak said Ukraine needs powerful allies and “clearly defined security guarantees” to keep it safe.

Another source of controversy is the Crimean state, which was seized and annexed by Russia in 2014, and the separatist-controlled Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, which Russia recognizes as independent. Ukraine considers both to be part of its territory.

Fighting has sent more than 3 million people fleeing Ukraine, according to UN estimates. The UN has reported that more than 700 civilians have been confirmed dead, but the actual number is higher.

Speaking at the congress, Zelenskyy said that Russia “has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people.” But Biden rejected Zelenskyy’s requests to send warplanes to Ukraine or establish a no-fly zone over the country at the risk of triggering a war between the United States and Russia.

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

In the midst of the great 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 of corpses to help “ensure that the dead are treated in a dignified manner “.

Nowhere has it suffered more than the city surrounded by Mariupol, where local authorities say the missile attacks and bombings have killed more than 2,300 people. The southern port of 430,000 was attacked during almost every three weeks of war in a siege that left people fighting for food, water, heat and medicine.

Local authorities said Russian forces had taken hundreds of people hostage at a Mariupol hospital and used them as human shields.

The bodies were buried in trenches in Mariupol, and more bodies lay on the streets and in the basement of a hospital.

Using the flashlight on her cell phone to light the basement, Dr. Valeriy Drengar removed a blanket to show the body of a 22-day-old baby. Other wrapped bodies also appeared to be children, given their size.

“These are the people we couldn’t save,” Drengar said.

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

But with humanitarian aid unable to get into the midst of the constant bombardment, people burn pieces of furniture to warm their hands and cook the little food that is still available.

Kiev regional leader Oleksiy Kuleba said Russian forces had intensified fighting in the suburbs of Kiev and on a road leading west, and across the capital region, “kindergartens, museums, churches, residential blocks and engineering infrastructure is suffering endless shootings. “

At other times, the mayor of the city of Melitopol, who was captured by Russian forces five days ago, has been released, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said. No details were given on how he was released.

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

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

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Follow AP war coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Russia’s onslaught continues amid optimism over talks – Press Telegram Source link Russia’s onslaught continues amid optimism over talks – Press Telegram

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