More talks planned between Ukraine and Russia after an attack on a base killed dozens

Smoke billows between damaged buildings and vehicles following an attack on the Yavoriv military base as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues in Yavoriv
Smoke rises between damaged buildings and vehicles after an attack on Yavoriv military base as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues March 13, 2022 in Yavoriv, ​​Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, in this social media image. @BackAndAlive/via REUTERS

March 14, 2022

By Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine stepped up on Monday, with Ukrainian and Russian negotiators looking to speak again after both sides cited progress even after Russia attacked a base near the Polish border and had fought elsewhere.

A barrage of Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s Yavoriv International Center for Peacekeeping and Security, a base just 25 km from the Polish border that previously housed NATO military trainers, killing 35 people and wounding 134, a Ukrainian official said Sunday.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, up to 180 “foreign mercenaries” and a large number of foreign weapons were destroyed. Reuters could not independently verify the casualties reported by either side.

Thousands of people have died since February 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what he called a special military operation to rid Ukraine of dangerous nationalists and Nazis.

The United States, which has been watching Russia’s build-up on Ukraine’s borders with growing concern for weeks, said it was a deliberate, unwarranted and illegal “election campaign.”

In a phone call, US President Joe Biden and France’s Emmanuel Macron underscored their commitment to holding Russia accountable for the invasion, the White House said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba also discussed diplomatic efforts to stop the Russian invasion, according to the State Department.

Hopes were boosted after Russia and Ukraine gave their most optimistic assessments after the weekend’s negotiations.

“Russia is already starting to speak constructively,” Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said in an online video. “I think we’re going to see some results literally in a matter of days.”

A Russian delegate to the talks, Leonid Slutsky, was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying they had made significant progress and it was possible that the delegations could reach a draft agreement soon.

Neither side said what these would cover. Three rounds of talks between the two sides in Belarus, most recently last Monday, focused primarily on humanitarian issues.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the countries’ delegations spoke daily via video link and that a clear aim of his negotiators was “to do everything possible” to arrange a meeting with Putin.

“We have to persevere. We have to fight. And we will win,” Zelenskyy said in a late-night video address.


Global financial markets, plagued by fears that the conflict could spread and drag out NATO, rallied on hopes of progress in peace talks. Stocks rose while oil prices gave back some of their massive recent gains. [MKTS/GLOB]

Western nations have tried to isolate Putin by imposing tough economic sanctions and supplying arms to Ukraine.

Increasingly isolated Russia asked China for military equipment after its invasion, prompting concerns in the White House that Beijing could undermine Western efforts to help Ukrainian forces defend their country, several US officials said.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who is due to meet China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday, warned Beijing that it would “absolutely” face consequences if it helped Moscow bypass sanctions.

When asked about Russia’s request for military aid, Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said, “I’ve never heard of that.”

He said China finds the current situation in Ukraine “troubling,” adding, “We support and encourage all efforts conducive to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.”

Still, violence and bloodshed continued.

Air raid sirens sounded before dawn in many cities and regions of Ukraine, including Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk and Cherkasy.

In the capital, authorities said they were stockpiling two weeks’ worth of food for the 2 million people who have not yet fled Russian forces trying to encircle the city.

An American journalist was shot dead by Russian forces in the town of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, and another journalist was injured, the regional police chief said.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russian naval forces had established a remote blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, isolating the country from international maritime trade.

In eastern Ukraine, Russian troops tried to surround Ukrainian forces as they advanced from the port of Mariupol to the south and the second-largest city of Kharkiv to the north, she added.

The Russian-controlled eastern city of Donbass and Crimea – which Russia captured in 2014 – are now linked by a road controlled by pro-Russian forces, Russian news agency RIA quoted Georgy Muradov, deputy prime minister of the Russian-backed government in Crimea as saying , as said.

The report could not be independently confirmed.

The Russian invasion has forced more than 2.5 million people to flee Ukraine’s borders and trapped hundreds of thousands in besieged cities.

“It’s appalling how violent and inhuman it is,” Olga, a refugee from Kyiv, told Reuters after entering Romania.

The United Nations says at least 596 civilians have died since the invasion began, and the death toll is likely significantly higher given the difficulty in confirming deaths in places like Mariupol.

The city council in Mariupol said 2,187 residents had been killed since the invasion began. Reuters was unable to verify this toll.

Moscow denies attacks on civilians. It blames Ukraine for failed attempts to evacuate civilians from encircled towns, an accusation Ukraine and its western allies firmly deny.

Kharkiv in north-eastern Ukraine has suffered some of the heaviest bombing, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

“We will sew up the wounds and pain of our country and our city,” said Aliev, a 23-year-old musician. “We’re not going anywhere.”

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Raju Gopalakrishnan) More talks planned between Ukraine and Russia after an attack on a base killed dozens

Bobby Allyn

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