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Ukrainian Zelenskiy says Russia is holding peace talks or suffering for generations

A man walks near destroyed cars in a residential area damaged by a bomb attack, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 18, 2022. REUTERS / Marko Djurica

March 19, 2022

(Corrects the spelling of Ivano-Frankivsk in the fourth paragraph)

By Natalia Zinets and Natalie Thomas

LVIV / ODESSA, Ukraine (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday called for extensive peace talks with Moscow to halt their invasion of Ukraine, saying otherwise it would take Russia “several generations” to recover from its losses in the war.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on February 24, Russian forces have suffered heavy casualties and their advance has largely stopped, but long lines of troops attacking Kyiv have stopped in its suburbs.

However, they have besieged cities, destroyed urban areas and in recent days stepped up missile strikes on scattered targets in western Ukraine, away from major battlefields in the north and east of the country.

On Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had destroyed a large underground missile and missile depot in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region with high-sounding weapons, missiles capable of traveling at five times the speed or speed.

Missiles also destroyed Ukrainian military radio and intelligence centers near the port of Odessa, according to the Interfax news agency.

Reuters could not independently verify these reports. Zelenskiy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ukrainian authorities said on Saturday that they had not seen any significant changes in the war zone over the past 24 hours, pointing out that the cities of Mariupol, Mykolaiv and Kherson in the south and Izyum in the east had been particularly hard-fought.

More than 3.3 million refugees have already fled Ukraine through Ukraine’s western border and an additional 2 million are fleeing the country. Attempts to evacuate civilians from besieged cities through “humanitarian marches” continued.

Ukrainian authorities said they hoped to open 10 such tunnels on Saturday.

Unprecedented Western sanctions aimed at paralyzing Russia’s economy and starving its war machine have not yet stopped what Putin calls a “special operation” to disarm his neighbors and purge them of “Nazis.” Kyiv and its allies have called this a baseless accusation of war.

MARÍUPOLS vesen

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry acknowledged on Friday that it had “temporarily” lost access to the Sea of ​​Azov, a strategic link with the Black Sea, after Russia said it was “tightening the noose” around the siege of Mariupol’s southern port.

Hundreds of thousands have been trapped there for more than two weeks as electricity, water and heating were cut off. Its Soviet-era apartment blocks were blown up in burnt-out shells and hidden uncollected bodies inside the ruins, a common sight. Local officials say fighting has reached the city center while heavy gunfire has prevented humanitarian aid from entering.

Rescuers were still searching for the remains of a theater in Mariupol that local authorities say had been flattened out by Russian airstrikes on Wednesday. Russia denies hitting the theater, saying it is not aimed at civilians.

In a provocative mood, Putin promised on Friday to fly a flag at a football stadium in Moscow that Russia would “absolutely achieve all our plans”.

Zelenskiy said that no compromise would cost a fortune.

“I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. It’s time for a meeting, it’s time to talk, “he said in a video broadcast early on Saturday. “The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s loss will be such that it will take you several generations to recover. “

Russia last acknowledged on March 2 that nearly 500 of its troops had been killed; Ukraine says the number has now risen to thousands. Reuters has not been able to confirm the death toll independently.

PREPARATION THAT DAY

Western experts say Moscow seems to have underestimated the resistance it faced in Ukraine, where civilians, who never fired their weapons until a few weeks ago, came together to defend their country.

In a training facility in Odessa, a beautiful Black Sea port and a vibrant cultural center, young city workers learned how to handle weapons and apply first aid to wounds on the battlefield.

“Every person should know how to fight, how to make medicine, help their relatives or other people,” said 26-year-old graphic designer Olga Moroz. She was training with her boyfriend, 32-year-old sales manager Maxim Yavtushenko.

The facility has trained 80 to 150 people a day, all trying to prepare for the day when Russian troops pushing closer to the city could finally arrive.

Kyiv and Moscow reported some progress in talks this week towards a political formula that would ensure Ukraine’s security, but keep it out of NATO, although both sides have accused each other of dragging things out.

Although Russia has been isolated by sanctions and diplomatically ousted, China is the only superpower that has not condemned the attack. The United States is concerned that Beijing’s lifeline could defuse international pressure.

In a video call on Friday, Chinese President Joe Biden told Chinese President Xi Jinping that there would be “consequences” if Beijing provided “material support” to Russia in Ukraine, the White House said, adding that sanctions were an option.

Both Russia and China deny having discussed military aid, and Beijing says it wants to see an end to the conflict.

(Corrects the spelling of Ivano-Frankivsk in the fourth paragraph)

(Reports from Reuters offices; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Tomasz Janowski; Editing by William Mallard and Frances Kerry)



Ukrainian Zelenskiy says Russia is holding peace talks or suffering for generations

Source link Ukrainian Zelenskiy says Russia is holding peace talks or suffering for generations

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