Fighting in Kyiv with Russia and Ukraine signals the possibility of negotiations

Smoke and fire rise during shelling near Kyiv
Smoke and fire rise during shelling near Kyiv, as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine February 26, 2022. REUTERS / Gleb Garanich

February 26, 2022

By Maria Tsvetkova

KYIV (Reuters) – Russian and Ukrainian forces clashed in the Ukrainian capital on Saturday as authorities appealed to residents to help defend the city against an onslaught by Russian forces during a bad European security crisis worst in decades.

But even as the fighting deepens, the Russian and Ukrainian governments have signaled the opening of talks, providing the first glimmer of hope for diplomacy since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion on Thursday. .

A Reuters witness in Kyiv said heavy artillery fire and intense gunfire could be heard, seemingly some distance away from the city centre. Ukraine’s military said Russian troops attacked a military base on the main avenue but the attack was repulsed.

A Reuters witness said gunfire was heard shortly after dawn near government buildings in the city centre.

“Ukraine’s fate is being decided right now,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Friday in a video address posted on his Telegram channel.

The air force command said there was fierce fighting near an airbase southwest of the capital Vasylkiv, which it said was being attacked by Russian paratroopers.

It also said one of its warplanes shot down a Russian transport plane. Reuters was unable to independently verify the claims.

The people of Kyiv were told by the defense ministry that they had made petrol bombs to repel the invaders.

Some families huddled in shelters for fear of more Russian missiles. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes to find safety, according to the head of UN aid.

As dawn broke, the media reported air raid sirens in several cities.

After weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Putin launched a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine from the north, east and south on Thursday, in an attack that threatens to disrupt the post-War European order. Cold painting.

“I once again appeal to servicemen of the armed forces of Ukraine: do not allow neo-Nazis and (Ukrainian extremist nationalists) to use their children, wives and your elders act as human shields,” Putin said at a televised meeting with Russia’s security ministry. Council.

“Take power into your own hands.”

Putin has cited the need to “denuclearize” Ukraine’s leadership as one of the main reasons for his invasion, accusing it of genocide against Russian-speaking people in the east. Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies deny the accusations as baseless propaganda.

Ukrainians voted overwhelmingly for independence when the Soviet Union collapsed and Kyiv hoped to join NATO and the EU – an aspiration that angered Moscow.

Putin says Ukraine, a democratic country of 44 million people, is an illegitimate country outside Russia, a stance Ukrainians see as aimed at erasing their millennial history.


Western countries have announced a series of sanctions against Russia, including blacklisting its banks and banning technology exports. But they stopped short of forcing it out of the SWIFT system for international banking.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. The European Union and Britain have previously frozen any assets Putin and Lavrov hold on their territory. Canada has taken similar steps.

The invasion sparked a flurry of credit-rating moves on Friday, with S&P downgraded Russia’s rating to “junk”, Moody’s taking it into consideration for a downgrade to junk, and S&P and Fitch fast quickly cut off Ukraine because of worries about debt default.

However, the low economic costs did not discourage Putin.

On Friday, Moscow said it had captured Hostomel airport northwest of the capital – a likely staging ground for an attack on Kyiv that has occurred since Russian paratroopers landed there in the early days. the first hour of the war.

This could not be confirmed and Ukrainian authorities reported heavy fighting there.

But amid the chaos of war, there was a glimmer of hope.

A Zelenskiy spokesman said Ukraine and Russia would consult in the coming hours on the time and place for the talks.

Earlier, the Kremlin said it had offered to meet in the Belarusian capital Minsk after Ukraine expressed its willingness to discuss declaring itself a neutral country while Ukraine proposed Warsaw as the venue. That has led to a “pause” of contacts, according to Russia’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Zelenskiy spokesman Sergii Nykyforov said in a Facebook post: “Ukraine was and still is ready to talk about a ceasefire and peace. “We agreed to the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation.”

However, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Russia’s offer was an attempt to conduct diplomacy “before the barrel of the gun” and that Putin’s military must stop bombing Ukraine if they are serious about it. negotiations.


At the United Nations, Russia vetoed a draft Security Council resolution that would have supported its invasion, while China abstained, which Western countries saw as evidence of its invasion. Russian isolation. The United Arab Emirates and India also abstained while the remaining 11 members voted in favor.

A picture of what is happening across Ukraine – the largest country in Europe after Russia – is slow to emerge.

Zelenskiy wrote on Twitter that there had been fierce fighting with the dead at the entrances to the eastern cities of Chernihiv and Melitopol, as well as at Hostomel.

Witnesses said they heard explosions and gunfire near the airport in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city. Ukraine’s military said Russian troops were stopped with heavy losses near the city of Konotop, in the northeastern part of the country.

There were also reports of fighting near an airbase southwest of Kyiv.

Ukraine says more than 1,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. Russia does not release casualty figures. Zelenskiy said late on Thursday that 137 soldiers and civilians had been killed with hundreds wounded.

The White House has asked Congress to provide $6.4 billion in security and humanitarian aid to the crisis, officials said, and Biden has directed the State Department to release $350 million in military aid. the.

(Reporting of the Report by Aleksandar Vasovic, Natalia Zinets and Maria Tsvetkova in Kyiv, Aleksandar Vasovic in Mariupol, Alan Charlish in Medyka, Poland, Fedja Grulovic in Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania and the Reuters office; Writing by Matt Spetalnick and Robert Birsel ; Editing by Daniel Wallis and William Mallard) Fighting in Kyiv with Russia and Ukraine signals the possibility of negotiations

Bobby Allyn

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