Peace Talks Between Russia and Ukraine Resume, as Forces Approach Kyiv

Russian soldiers kept up their pressure on Kiev on Monday, a day after increasing the attack by shelling towns near the Polish border, giving besieged Ukrainians optimism that resumed diplomatic discussions with Moscow would clear the path for more civilians to flee.

According to regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba, Russian soldiers fired artillery on suburbs northwest of Kyiv, a primary political and strategic goal for the invasion, as well as sites east of the capital, overnight.

In battle east of Kyiv, a town councilor was killed, and shells fell on the towns of Irpen, Bucha, and Hostomel, which had witnessed some of the hardest fighting in Russia’s delayed attempt to seize the city, according to Kuleba.

Early Monday morning, artillery struck a nine-story apartment building in the city’s northern quarter, demolishing flats on multiple stories and setting a fire. There were no initial reports of injuries, according to the state emergency department, which posted photographs of the burning structure.

Despite expanding bombings to the west, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces claimed Monday morning that Russian soldiers had not made considerable gains in the last 24 hours.

On Sunday, Russian missiles struck a military post in western Ukraine, killing 35 people in an attack on a site that serves as a vital hub for collaboration between Ukraine and the NATO countries that assist its defense. It heightened the prospect of the alliance being pulled into the conflict. In a confrontation that has reignited ancient Cold War rivalries and threatened to alter the existing global security system, the strike was also rich in symbolism.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it a “dark day” and urged NATO leaders to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a request that the West has warned might escalate the conflict to a nuclear war.

“It’s only a matter of time before Russian rockets strike your area if you don’t block our skies.” This is NATO territory. On the homes of NATO people,” Zelenskyy stated, inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet with him directly, a request that the Kremlin has yet to respond to.

According to Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, a fourth round of discussions between Ukrainian and Russian officials via video conference is scheduled for Monday to address sending help to cities and towns under fire, among other topics.

The meetings will be attended by the same higher-ranking officials who met previously in Belarus, with the goal of “assessing preliminary findings” of the negotiations thus far, according to Podolyak. Previous negotiations have failed to produce big breakthroughs or a strategy for delivering supplies or evacuation convoys to Mariupol, which is in critical need.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is sent his national security advisor to Rome to meet with a Chinese official, amid concerns that Beijing is magnifying Russian misinformation and may be assisting Moscow in evading Western economic sanctions.

The United Nations has registered at least 596 civilian fatalities, though it believes the exact toll is significantly higher, with at least 85 children among them, according to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office. During Europe’s greatest land battle since World War II, millions of people have fled their homes.

Russian soldiers have failed to move throughout Ukraine since their invasion more than two weeks ago, against stiffer-than-expected resistance boosted by Western arms backing. Instead, Russian soldiers have encircled numerous cities and bombarded them with airstrikes, destroying two dozen medical institutions and causing a slew of humanitarian disasters.

This battle moved to Yavoriv on Sunday, a huge site that has long been used to train Ukrainian military, frequently alongside instructors from the United States and other Western allies. The location was targeted by more than 30 Russian cruise missiles. A total of 134 people were wounded in the incident, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

The base is fewer than 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Poland’s border, and it looks to be Russia’s westernmost objective during its 18-day assault. It has hosted NATO training exercises, making it a poignant symbol of Russia’s long-held worries that NATO’s expansion to encompass former Soviet states could jeopardize its security — something NATO rejects. Nonetheless, Moscow’s explanations for the conflict revolve upon the perceived danger posed by NATO, and it has demanded that Ukraine abandon its ambitions to join the alliance.

Ina Padi, a 40-year-old Ukrainian who crossed the border with her family, was sleeping in a fire station in Wielkie Oczy, Poland, when she was startled awake by blasts that rattled her windows early Sunday morning.

“I realized at that point that even if we were free of it, (the war) was still coming after us,” she explained.

Russian fighters also targeted the airport in Ivano-Frankivsk, a western city less than 150 kilometers (94 miles) north of Romania and 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Hungary, two additional NATO allies.

NATO confirmed on Sunday that it presently has no forces in Ukraine, despite the fact that the US has expanded the number of troops in Poland. The West would retaliate, according to White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan, if Russia’s strikes spread outside Ukraine and damage any NATO countries, even if it happens by accident.

Ukraine’s and Europe’s leaders have pressed Russia to allow people caught in the crossfire safe escape, but with minimal success. More than ten humanitarian routes, including one from the beleaguered port city of Mariupol, were expected to open on Sunday, according to Ukrainian officials. However, similar assurances have been broken before, and as of late Sunday, there was no indication on whether people will be permitted to utilize the evacuation routes.

The International Committee of the Red Cross described Mariupol’s suffering as “absolutely tremendous,” with hundreds of thousands of people facing severe food, water, and medical shortages.

“Dead corpses, both civilians and fighters, are buried beneath the debris or lying in the open where they fell,” according to a statement from the Red Cross. “Life-altering injuries and persistent, incapacitating diseases are incurable.”

The battle for Mariupol is vital because its conquest might allow Russia to provide a land corridor to Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

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