Russia’s Offensive Continues Amid Optimism Over Talks

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  • Russian forces destroyed a theatre in Mariupol and rained fire on other cities.
  • Ukrainian authorities said, even as the two sides projected optimism over efforts to negotiate an end to the fighting.
  • The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. military assessments, said Russia’s aims weren’t clear.

Russian military damaged a theatre in Mariupol where hundreds of people were sheltering on Wednesday, according to Ukrainian authorities, and rained fire on other cities, despite the two sides projecting confidence about efforts to negotiate a cease-fire as reported by AP News.

Airstrike ripped apart

The airstrike ripped apart the centre of the once-elegant building, where hundreds of civilians had been living since their homes had been destroyed in the fighting, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“My heart breaks from what Russia is doing to our people,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address, calling for more sanctions on Russia after the bombing.

A 12-story apartment building in central Kyiv erupted in flames after being hit by shrapnel.

And 10 people were killed while standing in line for bread in the northern city of Chernihiv, the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office said.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. is sending an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, including more anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons and drones.

Stopping attacks

International pressure against the Kremlin mounted and its isolation deepened as the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, ordered Russia to stop attacking Ukraine, though there was little hope it would comply.

Also, the 47-nation Council of Europe, the continent’s foremost human rights body, expelled Russia.

The two sides resumed talks via video on Wednesday, with Zelenskyy adviser Mikhailo Podolyak saying Ukraine was demanding a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and legal security guarantees for Ukraine from several countries.

“This is possible only through direct dialogue” between Zelenskyy and Putin, he tweeted.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks, said Ukraine was insisting on the inclusion of one or more Western nuclear powers in the negotiations and on the signing of a legally binding document with security guarantees for Ukraine.

Serious discussion

After Tuesday’s negotiations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said a neutral military status for Ukraine was being “seriously discussed” by the two sides, while Zelenskyy said Russia’s demands for ending the war were becoming “more realistic.”

“There are concrete formulations that in my view are close to being agreed.”

Prospects for a diplomatic breakthrough were highly uncertain, however, given the gulf between Ukraine’s demand that the invading forces withdraw completely and Russia’s suspected aim of replacing Kyiv’s Westward-looking government with a pro-Moscow regime.

The fighting has led more than 3 million people to flee Ukraine, by the United Nations’ estimate.

The southern seaport of 430,000 has been under attack for almost all of the three-week war in a siege that has left people struggling for food, water, heat and medicine.

Human shields

Local authorities said Russian forces took hundreds of people hostage at a Mariupol hospital and were using them as human shields.

Other wrapped bodies also appeared to be children, given their size.

“These are the people we could not save,” Drengar said.

No details were given about how he became free.

Ukraine also appeared to have successes, with satellite photos from Planet Labs PBC analyzed by the AP showing helicopters and vehicles ablaze at the Russian-held Kherson airport and airbase after a suspected Ukrainian strike on Tuesday.

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Source: AP News

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