Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for full-scale peace talks with Moscow to halt the invasion of his homeland, warning that otherwise it would take Russia “several generations” to recover from the losses suffered in the war.
Since the attack began on February 24, Russian troops, facing stiff resistance, have largely stalled their advance, even as they pushed into the capital, Kyiv. In order to regain momentum, they have besieged cities and reduced urban areas to rubble.
Air raid sirens sounded in the Kyiv, Chernihiv and Zhytomyr regions early this morning, but there were no immediate reports of fresh attacks.
The governor of the eastern Luhansk region, which borders Russia, said there will be a ceasefire this morning and a humanitarian corridor will open for evacuations.
“A ‘regime of silence’ has been agreed from 9 a.m. today,” Governor Serhiy Gaidai said in a message on Telegram. Luhansk is located in Ukraine’s coal-rich Donbass region, which has been partially controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
Gaidai, the head of Ukraine’s Luhansk administration, said 59 civilians had been killed in the region since the war began.
Unprecedented Western sanctions aimed at isolating Russia’s economy have done little to stop what President Vladimir Putin is calling a “special operation” to reduce his neighbor’s military capabilities and “denazify” his government.
After Russia said it was tightening the noose around the key port of Mariupol, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry yesterday admitted it had “temporarily” lost access to the Sea of Azov, which connects to the Black Sea, and would be a major loss for Ukraine .
But Western officials say Russia has suffered heavy casualties, with signs of declining morale among its troops, a trend Zelensky alluded to in a video message urging new negotiations to end the war.
“I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it’s time to talk,” he said earlier today. “The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice to Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be so great that it will take generations for her to recover.”
Russia acknowledged on March 2 that nearly 500 of its soldiers had been killed, but has not given an update since. According to Ukraine, the number now runs into many thousands.
Kyiv and Moscow this week reported some progress in talks on a political formula that would guarantee Ukraine security protections outside the NATO alliance.
However, Ukraine said the need for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops remained, and each side accused the other of protracting talks.
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Putin has vowed to continue the invasion until it succeeds, promising on Friday in front of tens of thousands of people waving Russian flags at a football stadium in Moscow that Russia “will absolutely carry out all our plans.”
The United States has repeatedly warned that Russia may turn to China, the largest power that has not condemned the attack, for help.
In a video call yesterday, President Joe Biden told Chinese President Xi Jinping there will be “consequences” if Beijing provides “material support” to Russia in Ukraine, the White House said. Sanctioning Beijing is an option. Continue reading
China and Russia deny Beijing is considering providing military aid to Moscow. China says it wants to see an end to the conflict.
US oilfield services companies Halliburton Co and Schlumberger announced yesterday that they have suspended or halted operations in response to US sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Russia.
Russia, one of the largest oil and gas producers in the world, exports 7 to 8 million barrels of crude oil and oil products every day. BP, Shell, Equinor ASA and Exxon Mobil have gone out of business or announced plans to exit operations in Russia.
In the fourth week of their land, sea and air offensive, Russian forces have failed to capture major cities and Ukraine’s elected government defiantly remains in the capital.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians had fled to Lviv in western Ukraine, far from the front lines in the east of the country, fleeing bombing raids that Ukraine says have hit apartment blocks, schools, hospitals and cultural facilities.
Three missiles landed at an airport near Lviv yesterday, raising fears the city could face a deeper attack.
Civilians seeking refuge in eastern Ukrainian cities have faced power, heating and water cuts, while food and other essential resources have become increasingly scarce. More than 3 million refugees have fled across Ukraine’s western border.
Some of the heaviest fighting has taken place in Mariupol, where some 400,000 people have been trapped for over two weeks. Officials there say fighting has reached the city center and almost constant shelling has prevented humanitarian aid from entering.
Rescue workers were still looking for survivors at a Mariupol theater that was leveled by Russian airstrikes on Wednesday. Russia denies having hit the theater.
In his video address, Zelensky said there was no information on how many people had died in the theater, where hundreds had taken refuge. More than 130 people were rescued, he said.
As people continue to try to flee through “humanitarian corridors” set up by Ukrainian and Russian officials, the World Food Program has warned that food supply chains in the country are collapsing.
Major infrastructure such as bridges and trains have been destroyed by bombs and many grocery stores and warehouses are empty, said Jacob Kern, WFP emergency coordinator for the Ukraine crisis.
“In Ukraine, our task is to replace the broken commercial food supply chains,” he said, calling it a “mammoth task.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/ukraine-president-calls-for-meaningful-talks-to-end-war-41464686.html Ukraine War: President Zelenskyy calls for meaningful talks with Russia needed to end war