Ukraine sees room for compromise as 20,000 flee Mariupol – Press Enterprise


Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Ukraine said it saw potential room for compromise in talks with Russia on Tuesday, while Moscow forces stepped up their bombardment of Kyiv and an estimated 20,000 civilians fled the desperately encircled port city of Mariupol via a humanitarian corridor.

The rapid developments on the diplomatic front and on the ground came on the 20th day of the Russian invasion, when the number of Ukrainians fleeing the country amid the worst fighting in Europe since World War II dwarfed 3 million.

A top Ukrainian negotiator, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, described the latest round of talks with the Russians, which took place via video conference, as “very difficult and sticky” and said there were “fundamental contradictions” between the two sides, but added that “there are certainly leaves room for compromise.” He said talks would resume on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, another adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ihor Zhovkva, struck a more optimistic note, saying that negotiations had become “more constructive” and that Russia had softened its stance by dropping its calls for Ukraine’s surrender Job.

In other developments, the leaders of three European Union countries – Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia – visited the embattled capital, arriving by train to boldly demonstrate their support amid the danger.

Meanwhile, large pre-dawn blasts thundered through Kyiv in what Ukrainian authorities described as artillery strikes as Russia’s bombardment of the capital appeared to become more systematic, moving closer to the city center, destroying apartments, a metro station and other civilian facilities.

Zelenskyi said barrages struck four multi-story buildings in the city, killing dozens. The strikes disrupted the relative calm that was returning after an initial advance by Moscow forces was halted in the early days of the war.

A senior US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the Pentagon’s assessment, said the Russians were increasingly using long-range fire to hit civilian targets in Kyiv, but that their ground forces were making little to no progress in the area made land. The official said Russian troops were still about 15 kilometers from the center of the capital.

The official said the US has seen signs that Russia believes it may need more troops or supplies than it has available in Ukraine and is considering ways to bring more resources into the country. The officer didn’t elaborate.

Ahead of Tuesday’s talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would reiterate its demands that Ukraine drop its bid to join NATO, adopt neutral status and “demilitarize.”

In a statement that appeared to signal potential grounds for a deal with Moscow, Zelenskyy told European leaders gathered in London that he was aware that NATO had no intention of absorbing Ukraine.

“We’ve heard about open doors for many years, but we’ve also heard that we cannot enter those doors,” he said. “That’s the truth, and we just have to accept it for what it is.”

NATO does not accept nations with unresolved territorial conflicts. Zelenskyy has repeatedly said in recent weeks that he is aware that NATO will not offer Ukraine membership and that he could consider neutral status for his country, but needs strong security guarantees from both the West and Russia.

The United Nations said nearly 700 civilians were killed in Ukraine, although the true number is likely much higher.

Two journalists working for Fox News were killed when the vehicle they were traveling in was hit by fire on the outskirts of Kyiv on Monday, the network said. Fox identified the two as video journalist Pierre Zakrzewski and Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova, who helped Fox crews navigate the area. Another journalist was killed in Ukraine on Sunday.

A fresh effort has been launched across the country to keep civilians safe and provide assistance. The Red Cross said it was working to evacuate people in about 70 buses from the northeastern city of Sumy, near the Russian border.

The exodus from Mariupol was the largest evacuation to date from the southern city of 430,000, where officials said a week-long siege killed more than 2,300 and left residents struggling for food, water, warmth and medicine. Bodies were buried in mass graves.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior Zelenskyi adviser, said about 20,000 people managed to leave Mariupol in 4,000 private vehicles via a designated safe corridor leading to the city of Zaporizhia.

On a day when thousands managed to leave Mariupol, Russian troops seized the city’s main hospital, regional leader Pavlo Kyrylenko said. He said the troops forced about 400 people from nearby homes into the regional intensive care hospital and used them and about 100 patients and staff as human shields, not allowing them to leave the hospital.

Kyrylenko said the shelling had already severely damaged the hospital’s main building, but medical staff were treating patients in makeshift wards in the basement.

Doctors from other hospitals in Mariupol shot a video to tell the world about the horrors they witnessed. “We don’t want to be heroes and martyrs posthumously,” said one woman. She also said it wasn’t enough to simply call people wounded: “Arms and legs have been torn off, eyes have been gouged out, bodies have been torn to pieces, innards have fallen out.”

Meanwhile, the general staff of the Ukrainian army said on Tuesday evening that Russian troops had launched another attack on the strategically important city.

Fighting in the outskirts of Kyiv has intensified in recent days, and air raid sirens have been wailing in the capital. The mayor imposed a curfew until Thursday morning.

Artillery strikes on Tuesday hit the Svyatoshynskyi district in western Kyiv, bordering the suburb of Irpin, which has seen some of the worst fighting of the war.

Flames belched from a 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. Rescue workers said at least one person was killed.

“Yesterday we put out one fire, today another. It’s very difficult,” said a firefighter, who gave only his first name, Andriy, in front of the building, tears streaming down his eyes. “People are dying and the worst thing is that children are dying. They haven’t lived their lives and they’ve already seen that.”

City authorities also tweeted a picture of the blown-up facade of a downtown subway station that had been used as a bomb shelter, saying trains were no longer stopping at the station.

A 10-storey apartment building in the Podilsky district of Kyiv, north of the government district, was damaged. Russian forces also intensified their strikes against Irpin and the suburbs of Hostomel and Bucha in northwestern Kiev overnight, said the head of the capital region, Oleksiy Kuleba.

“Many roads have turned into a mush of steel and concrete. People have been hiding in basements for weeks, afraid to go out to evacuate themselves,” Kuleba said on Ukrainian television.

In the east of the country, Russian forces carried out more than 60 attacks on Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, from Monday to Tuesday, according to Oleh Sinehubov, head of the regional administration. The strikes hit the city’s historic center, including the Main Market Square.

He said the bodies of dozens of civilians had been pulled from destroyed apartment buildings.

On Tuesday evening, Ukrainian forces repelled Russian troops attempting to storm Kharkiv from their positions in Piatykhatky, a suburb 15 kilometers to the north, and were able to “push the enemy back beyond their previous position,” Sinehubov told Telegram. He called it a “disgraceful defeat”.


Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor in Washington, Raf Casert in Brussels, and AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.


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