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Zelenskiy says Russia’s position in negotiations is becoming “more realistic” as fears for Mariupol grow

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Ukrainian PM says more time is needed for negotiations to bear fruit as he prepares to address the US Congress.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said he sees possible room for compromise in talks with Russia ahead of a new round of discussions, despite Moscow’s intensified bombardment of kyiv and as fears deepen for the port city of Ukraine. Mariupol.

“The 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 interest of Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said in a video address on Wednesday morning.

“Efforts are still needed, patience is needed,” he said. “Any era ends with a deal.”

Related: Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on the 21st day of the invasion

Ukraine’s chief negotiator, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, said there were “fundamental contradictions” between the two sides, but added that “there is certainly room for compromise.” Another Zelenskiy aide, Ihor Zhovkva, said the negotiations had become “more constructive” and that Russia had softened its stance by no longer airing its demands that Ukraine surrender. The talks were scheduled to resume via video link on Wednesday.

As the war neared its third week and heavy bombing of Ukrainian cities continued, US President Joe Biden signed $13.6 billion in aid. Zelenskiy thanked President Joe Biden and “all the friends of Ukraine” for the new support.

An update from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry on Wednesday said that “the worst situation remains in the Mariupol area, where the opponent tries to blockade the city on the eastern and western outskirts of the city.” It came as the Associated Press reported that Russian troops seized a hospital in Mariupol and took some 500 people hostage during another assault on the southern port city Tuesday night, regional leader Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

On Wednesday morning there were reports that a residential tower had been hit by shelling in kyiv.

The Ukrainian president will address the US Congress on Wednesday and NATO military commanders will also meet in Brussels to draw up plans on new ways to deter Russia, including more troops and missile defenses in Eastern Europe, officials and diplomats said. .

The ministers will hear from their Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov, who is expected to advocate for more weapons from individual NATO countries, as Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities continue.

Earlier, Zelenskiy acknowledged that Ukraine will not become a NATO member, in a major concession on a day the invading force tightened its grip on the capital.

Related: Tony Blair: The West Has Fifteen Days To Help End The War In Ukraine

The leaders of three European Union countries — Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia — met in kyiv on Tuesday, arriving by train in a bold show of support amid danger.

At a press conference after the meeting, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told the Ukrainians: “Europe is with you.”

“The main purpose of our visit and the main message of our mission is to tell our Ukrainian friends that they are not alone,” Fiala said.

In other developments:

  • The United States Senate has passed a unanimous resolution condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal.

  • The leader of Poland’s ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said an international peacekeeping mission should be sent to operate in Ukraine.

The swift developments on the diplomatic front and on the ground came as Moscow forces intensified their bombardment of kyiv and some 20,000 civilians fled the desperately surrounded port city of Mariupol through a humanitarian corridor.

At least five people were killed in the latest artillery shelling in kyiv, prompting its city council to impose a 35-hour curfew from Tuesday night amid new signs the Russian campaign’s focus is shifting. has shifted towards the destruction of residential areas and civil infrastructure.

After repeated shelling and nearly surrounded by Russian forces, about half of kyiv’s 3.5 million prewar residents have fled, officials said, with many who remain spending the night sheltering in underground stations.

kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the city was facing “a difficult and dangerous time” but vowed he would not give up.

“The capital is the heart of Ukraine and it will be defended,” he said. “Kyiv, which is currently the symbol and forward operating base of Europe’s freedom and security, will not be given up by us.”

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The series of four loud pre-dawn explosions rocked residential districts in kyiv on Tuesday, hours before Ukraine-Russia talks are due to resume.

“The streets have become a mixture of steel and concrete,” said the head of the capital region, Oleksiy Kuleba. “People have been hiding in basements for weeks.”

An attack in kyiv hit a 16-storey block of flats, where fire raged and smoke billowed from the building’s shattered skeleton, as emergency services and stunned locals navigated an obstacle course of glass, metal and other debris. that covered the road.

Residents of the Podil district of northern kyiv, which is close to the Russian positions, told The Guardian they had heard an increase in shelling between the two sides in the past two days.

On Tuesday morning, Daria Kloichko arrived at her apartment in the north of the city of kyiv, which was almost destroyed by a rocket at 5 in the morning. Kloichko’s apartment was full of glass and she could not save much. There was hardly a floor in the block that had not been touched by the attack.

A refugee from the 2014 war in eastern Ukraine against Russian proxy forces, she and her husband hugged and cried as they pulled photos from the wall, the only objects that somehow survived the attack.

“Luckily, we weren’t here,” Kloichko said with tears streaming down his face.

Another man, Andriy, who lived on the block but declined to give his last name, said the blast somehow jammed the door to his son’s room and he had to break it down.

In the east, Dnipro airport also suffered massive damage overnight, while Russian forces launched more than 60 attacks on Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, according to regional administration chief Oleh Sinehubov. The strikes hit the historic center of the city, including the main market.

Related: ‘They draw bombs, tanks and wishes for peace’: the child mental health crisis in Ukraine

The UN said nearly 1.4 million children, almost one every second, had left Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24. According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), 3,000,381 people have fled Russia’s onslaught in what NGOs have called Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II. UNHCR expects the total number of refugees to reach 4 million.


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