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Monday, March 20, 2023

As Peace Talks Continue, Russia Pounds Ukraine’s Cities with Rockets

Early Tuesday, Russian soldiers pummeled Ukrainian towns in an assault that exacerbated the humanitarian catastrophe even as the countries maintained a slender diplomatic channel with further planned meetings.

Large explosions erupted around Kyiv shortly before morning. A series of Russian missiles struck a residential area of the capital, causing a massive fire and a desperate rescue attempt in a 15-story apartment complex. One person has been murdered, while others are still trapped inside.

The municipal council stated that a convoy of 160 civilian automobiles left following an authorized humanitarian route, providing a rare ray of optimism in the besieged port city of Mariupol. The deadly siege has destroyed homes and other buildings over the last ten days or more, leaving people in severe need of food, water, heat, and medication.

The most recent session of discussions between Russia and Ukraine, held by video on Monday, was the fourth round including higher-ranking officials from both nations and the first in a week. After many hours of negotiations, the negotiators took a “technical stop” and intended to meet again Tuesday, according to an assistant to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In recent days, both parties have indicated some hope. The negotiators would address “peace, cease-fire, swift departure of soldiers, and security assurances,” according to Mykhailo Podolyak, Zelenskyy’s assistant.

Previous in-person meetings in Belarus resulted in no long-term humanitarian corridors or cease-fire agreements.

While the Biden administration supports Ukraine’s involvement in the negotiations with Russia, White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that in order to demonstrate good faith, Russian President Vladimir Putin would have to show signals of de-escalation.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned China against assisting Russia at a meeting with a top Chinese official in Rome.

Two administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said China had indicated to Moscow that it would be willing to provide both military and financial support in Ukraine to help mitigate the effects of Western sanctions, including a fourth set of EU sanctions announced late Monday.

The Kremlin has denied requesting military supplies from China for use in Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, said the operation was “unfolding in line with the plan and would be finished on schedule and in full” and that “Russia has its own capability to continue the operation.”

The explosions in Kyiv, according to the Ukrainian military, were caused by artillery attacks. They struck the Svyatoshynskyi area of western Kyiv, which is close to the Irpin suburb, which has experienced some of the war’s worst engagements.

As firemen rescued individuals from ladders, flames erupted from the residential building. The air was thick with smoke. One person died, and many others were rescued, according to a firefighter on the site, while others remained inside as rescuers attempted to reach them.

Russian military also increased strikes overnight on the northwest suburbs of Irpin, Hostomel, and Bucha, according to Oleksiy Kuleba, the chairman of the Kyiv region.

“Many streets (in those places) have become a mush of steel and concrete. People have been hiding in basements for weeks and are frightened to leave their homes, even for evacuations,” Kuleba said on Ukrainian television on Tuesday.

The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces stated in a Facebook statement that Russian forces had redoubled their attempts to take Mariupol in the south and launched new artillery assaults on downtown Kharkiv in the east. It stated that in the struggle for Mariupol, Ukrainian forces killed 150 Russian troops and damaged two Russian tanks.

According to a senior US defense source who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share the Pentagon’s assessment, practically all of Russia’s military offensives remained blocked after making little headway over the weekend. According to the source, Russian soldiers were still approximately 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Kyiv’s center.

According to the source, Russian troops have launched over 900 missiles, but Ukraine’s airspace remains disputed, with Russia unable to achieve absolute air supremacy.

Two persons were murdered, according to Ukrainian police, when Russians attacked an aviation manufacturing in Kyiv, causing a big fire. The Antonov factory in Ukraine is the country’s largest aircraft manufacturer, producing several of the world’s largest freight planes.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian general prosecutor’s office released details of two deadly Russian attacks the day before: a shooting that killed a 65-year-old woman and wounded the driver on a bus evacuating civilians from the Kyiv suburb of Hostomel; and an artillery strike that killed ten people at a university and an open-air market.

Authorities claimed Russian artillery fire also damaged a nine-story apartment building in the city’s northern Obolonskyi area, killing two additional people.

And, according to Ukraine’s emergency agency, a Russian bombing near a Ukrainian checkpoint caused considerable damage to a central Kyiv area, killing one person.

Kateryna Lot claimed she was in her flat doing schoolwork with her toddler when they heard a huge explosion and fled for safety.

“The kid started laughing uncontrollably. Our balcony and windows were destroyed. “A section of the floor collapsed,” she explained. “It was quite frightening.”

Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall was hurt while reporting outside of Kyiv and was taken to the hospital, according to the network.

In Russia, a lady stepped into the studio waving a pro-war banner, temporarily interrupting the live main evening news broadcast on state television. She was a Channel 1 staffer who was brought into police custody, according to the OVD-Info website, which tracks political arrests.

Officials stated a town councilor from Brovary, east of Kyiv, was killed in the battle.

Airstrikes were recorded around the country, notably in Mykolaiv, in the south, and Chernihiv, in the north, where most of the town was without heat. Overnight, explosions resonated across the Russian-controlled Black Sea port of Kherson.

According to the governor of the district, nine persons were murdered in a rocket strike on a TV tower in the western town of Antopol.

The municipal government in Mariupol, where the fighting has caused the most hardship, refused to specify how many people were in the convoy of automobiles heading west to Zaporizhzhia. A cease-fire along the highway, however, looked to be holding, according to the report.

Attempts to evacuate inhabitants and bring humanitarian goods to the 430,000-strong southern metropolis have been hindered in the past due to conflict.

Russian soldiers attempted to seize control of Mariupol on Monday, but were forced to flee, according to Ukraine’s military. Maxar Technologies satellite photographs revealed flames raging throughout the city, with several high-rise residential complexes severely damaged or destroyed.

Chechen fighters are leading the onslaught on Mariupol, according to the Kremlin-backed leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya, who stated so on a messaging app.

The conflict has become “nothing short of a nightmare” for people living in besieged towns, according to Robert Mardini, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who urged for safe passages for civilians to flee and humanitarian supplies to be delivered in.

He stated, “The situation cannot, cannot continue like this.” “What is occurring in Mariupol and other places is being watched by history.”

A ballistic missile fired by Ukrainian forces killed 20 people in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, according to the Russian military. It was not possible to independently verify the assertion.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the United Nations has registered at least 596 civilian fatalities, though it believes the actual toll is significantly higher. Millions more have abandoned their homes, with over 2.8 million pouring into Poland and neighboring countries in what the United Nations has dubbed Europe’s worst refugee crisis since WWII.

Although Russia’s military is larger and better armed than Ukraine’s, its forces have met stiffer-than-expected opposition, aided by Western-supplied armaments.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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