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Ukraine was: Zelenskyy says peace talks ‘more realistic’ as European leaders risk traveling by train to kyiv to offer support

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President Zelenskyy has said peace talks with Russia now “sound more realistic” but time is still needed to secure a deal in Ukraine’s interests.

A Ukrainian negotiator was also cautiously optimistic after the latest meeting, saying “there is certainly room for compromise” despite “fundamental contradictions”.

It comes as a flurry of Russian attacks moved closer to central kyiv on Tuesday, with a Large fire in a 15-story apartment building in the west of the capital.

“Everyone should work, including our representatives, our delegation, for negotiations with the Russian Federation,” Zelenskyy said in his evening speech.

“It is difficult, but important, since any war ends with an agreement.

“Meetings continue and, as I am informed, the positions during the negotiations already sound more realistic. But time is still needed for decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine.”

Ukraine was live: Latest developments

Zelenskyy has also hinted that he may accept security guarantees short of joining NATO. Ukraine abandons its ambitions to join the military alliance is one of the Russian demands.

in other developments

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• Zelenskyy will address the US Congress later when NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels
Fox News cameraman and Ukrainian journalist killed near kyiv
Journalist who protested live on Russian TV fined £210
• More than 122,000 Britons have already registered an interest in the refugee program

The leaders of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic arrived in kyiv after taking a train to meet the president, a bold show of support given the risks involved.

Polish President Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted a photo of the group, saying: “Europe must understand that if it loses Ukraine, it will never be the same again.”

“It will no longer be Europe. Rather it will be a defeated, humiliated and pathetic version of itself.”

A curfew is also in effect in kyiv until 7 am (5 am GMT) on Thursday after a surge in strikes in the past 48 hours.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko urged his fellow citizens to “spend time in the bunkers” as he visited the aftermath of the latest attack in the Svyatoshynskyi district.

His brother, Vladimir, told Sky News: “It doesn’t matter who you are now on Ukrainian soil…whether you have a press credential, or you’re a girl or a boy, an adult, a man or a woman…or an elderly person… you are a target of Russia, of the Russian army.”

In the southern city of Mariupol, which has been battered for several weeks, 20,000 people used 4,000 private cars to escape on Tuesday as a humanitarian corridor operated for a second day.

However, the Ukrainian authorities accused Russia of blocking the supply of aid to the isolated city.

Russian troops also seized a hospital in Mariupol and took some 500 people hostage, according to regional leader Pavlo Kyrylenko.

He said Russian forces had taken 400 people from neighboring houses to the Regional Intensive Care Hospital, where they joined around 100 doctors and patients inside.

The troops are using those inside the hospital as human shields and are not allowing anyone to leave, he said on the Telegram messaging app.

Another 8,533 people were also evacuated Tuesday from the northeastern Sumy region, according to Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces repulsed an attempt to storm Kharkiv’s second-largest city on Tuesday night, the region’s chief said.

Oleh Synehubov called it a “shameful defeat” and said the attackers were pushed past their previous position in the suburb of Piatykhatky, nine miles to the north.

There is no information on casualties yet, but the shelling of the eastern city is said to have intensified after dark. It came after 60 missiles hit the city’s historic center the night before.

Russia has met fierce resistance since the invasion began about three weeks ago and the number of soldiers killed means it is probably “fighting back”, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.

In his latest assessment, he said the Kremlin appears to be increasingly trying to replace lost soldiers to keep its plans on track.

“Russia is redeploying forces from as far afield as its Eastern Military District, the Pacific Fleet and Armenia,” the Defense Ministry tweeted.

“It is also increasingly looking to exploit irregular sources like Private Military Companies, Syrian mercenaries and others.

“Russia is likely to try to use these forces to hold onto captured territory and unleash its combat power to renew stalled offensive operations.”

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