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Live updates on Russia-Ukraine war: Ukraine’s capital under fire; 3 EU heads of state to visit

Kyiv, Ukraine — Russia’s relentless bombing of Ukraine edged closer to central Kyiv on Tuesday, with a series of strikes hitting a residential neighborhood as leaders of three European Union countries planned a bold visit to Ukraine’s embattled capital to show their support.

Just before dawn, large explosions thundered through artillery bombardments, which the Ukrainian authorities described as artillery strikes. The shelling ignited a massive fire and a desperate rescue effort at a 15-story apartment building in a western part of the city. At least one person was killed in the blast.

Shockwaves from an explosion also damaged the entrance to a downtown subway station that was being used as a bomb shelter. City authorities tweeted a picture of the blasted facade and said trains would no longer stop at the station.

As Russia stepped up its attack on Kyiv, leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia announced they would travel to Ukraine’s capital on Tuesday as part of a European Union mission to show their support for the country

“The aim of the visit is to express the European Union’s full support for Ukraine and its freedom and independence,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a tweet.

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He will be joined by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jana, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister for Security and leader of the Conservative ruling party.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators also planned to hold a second day of negotiations as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its 21st day. The Red Cross and the United Nations Refugee Agency say millions of people are facing food and medicine shortages, along with the immediate threats of conflict from shelling and airstrikes.

Millions more have fled their homes, with more than 2.8 million reaching Poland and other neighboring countries in what the UN says is the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

When Russia went to war nearly three weeks ago, fears of an imminent invasion gripped the Ukrainian capital, and residents slept in subway stations or crowded onto trains to flee. But as the Russian offensive faltered, Kyiv experienced a relative lull.

Fighting has intensified in recent days on the outskirts of the city, and air raid sirens are sounding sporadically around the capital.

The early morning artillery strikes hit the Svyatoshynskyi district of western Kyiv, bordering the suburb of Irpin, which has seen some of the worst battles of the war.

Flames belched from the 15-story apartment building and smoke choked the air as firefighters climbed ladders to rescue people. The attack blackened several floors of the building, tore a hole in the ground outside and blew out windows in neighboring apartment blocks.

A firefighter at the scene confirmed one person had died and several were rescued, but others stayed inside as rescuers tried to reach them.

A 10-story apartment building in Kyiv’s Podilsky district, north of the government district, was also damaged by unspecified munitions. Russian forces also stepped up strikes overnight against Irpin and the suburbs of Hostomel and Bucha in northwestern Kiev, said the head of the capital region, Oleksiy Kuleba.

“Many streets (in these areas) have been reduced to a sludge of steel and concrete. People have been hiding in basements for weeks and are afraid to go out for evacuations themselves,” Kuleba said on Ukrainian television.

Russian forces also stepped up their attacks on Ukraine’s second-biggest city, Kharkiv in the east, with more than 60 attacks overnight, according to Oleh Sinehubov, the head of the regional administration.

“Fires are raging in the city and there aren’t enough firefighters,” he said.

The strikes hit the city’s historic center, including the Main Market Square and Gagarin Avenue, a major thoroughfare.

Rescuers pulled “dozens of civilian bodies” from the rubble of destroyed homes, he said on Ukrainian television.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants to extend martial law until April 24 and oblige men aged 18 to 60 to stay in the country to fight. Zelenskyy has presented the extension in a draft law to parliament, which is expected to vote on it this week.

Talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators were set to resume on Tuesday after failing to make a breakthrough – or break off – on Monday. Both sides had expressed optimism about the negotiations, which Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said would discuss “peace, a ceasefire, immediate troop withdrawals and security guarantees.”

Russia’s military is larger and better equipped than Ukraine’s, but its troops are facing stronger than expected resistance, compounded by weapons supplied by the West.

US officials said Russian troops had made little progress on the ground in recent days and were still about 15 kilometers from central Kiev as of Monday. The Pentagon said Russian forces fired more than 900 missiles but failed to take control of the air over Ukraine.

US officials claimed that China had signaled to Moscow that it was ready to provide both military support in Ukraine and financial support to stave off the effects of Western sanctions.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned China not to help Russia during a meeting with a senior Chinese diplomat in Rome on Monday. The Kremlin declined to ask China for military equipment for use in Ukraine.

With each passing day, the human cost of the grueling war continues to mount. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office released details of two deadly Russian attacks that took place on Monday: an artillery strike that hit a university and an open-air market in the northern city of Chernihiv, killing 10 people, and the shooting dead of a 65-year-old woman on a bus, who evacuated civilians from a suburb of Kyiv.

The death toll in a Russian rocket attack on a television tower in western Ukraine rose to 19 on Monday, authorities in the Rivne region said on Tuesday. The Rivne regional government published on its Facebook page that 19 people were killed and nine injured in the attack on the TV tower in Antopol, a village about 160 kilometers from the border of NATO member Poland.

A Russian airstrike near a Ukrainian checkpoint caused extensive damage and one person killed in a neighborhood in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine’s emergency services said.

Kateryna Lot said she was at her apartment while her child was doing homework when they heard a loud explosion and ran to seek shelter.

“The child became hysterical. Our windows and balcony were smashed. Part of the floor fell off,” she said. “It was very, very scary.”

In an area outside of Kyiv, Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall was injured and hospitalized while reporting, the network said.

There was a rare glimmer of hope in the ringed port city of Mariupol after a convoy of 160 civilian cars drove along a designated humanitarian route, the city council reported on Monday. For the past 10 days, the deadly siege has razed homes and other structures, leaving people desperate for food, water, warmth and medicine.

Earlier attempts to evacuate civilians and bring humanitarian aid to the southern city of 430,000 have been thwarted by fighting.

Ukraine’s military said it repelled an attempt to take control of Mariupol by Russian forces on Monday, which were forced to retreat. Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed fires burning across the city, with many high-rise apartment buildings badly damaged or destroyed.

Ukraine claims its forces killed 150 Russian soldiers and destroyed two Russian tanks in the battle for Mariupol.

The Kremlin-backed leader of Russia’s Chechnya region said in a messaging app that Chechen fighters were leading the offensive on Mariupol.

Elsewhere, the Russian military said 20 civilians were killed in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine by a ballistic missile fired by Ukrainian forces. The claim could not be independently verified.

In Russia, state television’s live evening newscast was briefly interrupted by a woman entering the studio with an anti-war placard. The website OVD-Info, which monitors political arrests, identified her as a Channel 1 employee and said she was taken into police custody.

The UN refugee agency said Sunday it had at least 596 civilian deaths since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, although it believes the true number is much higher.

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Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://abc13.com/russia-ukraine-war-kyiv-ukrainian-president-volodymyr-zelenskyy-russian-vladimir-putin/11652718/ Live updates on Russia-Ukraine war: Ukraine’s capital under fire; 3 EU heads of state to visit

Dais Johnston

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