© Reuters. A view shows the Donetsk Regional Drama Theater destroyed by an air strike amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this handout photo obtained by Reuters on March 16, 2022. Press Service of the Military-Civil Administration of the Donetsk Region
By James Mackenzie, Natalia Zinets and Simon Lewis
KYIV/LVIV/WASHINGTON, Ukraine (Reuters) – As Russia’s military appeared to be stalling in its advance on Ukrainian cities, the United States on Thursday voiced concerns that China could assist Moscow with arming military as the war entered its fourth week.
Ukraine’s capital Kyiv came under renewed Russian shelling as rescuers in the besieged port of Mariupol dug survivors from the rubble of bombed-out buildings. Officials from the two countries have met again for peace talks but said their positions are still far apart.
Western sources and Ukrainian officials say the Russian offensive has leveled off since its troops invaded on February 24, further dampening expectations of a quick victory and elimination. abandoned the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Despite defeats on the battlefield and Western sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin shows no signs of abating. His government says it is counting on China to help Russia withstand the blows to its economy.
The United States, which this week announced new $800 million in military aid to Kyiv, is concerned that Beijing is “considering directly providing Russia with military equipment for use in Ukraine,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. said.
President Joe Biden will make it clear to Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call on Friday that Beijing “will be held accountable for any action to support Russia’s aggression and we will not hesitate to do so.” afraid to impose costs,” Blinken told reporters.
China has refused to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine or call it an invasion. It says it recognizes Ukraine’s sovereignty but Russia has legitimate security concerns that need to be addressed.
While the US says it wants to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia, China’s military aid to Moscow will put Washington and Beijing – the world’s two biggest powers – on opposite sides in a major offensive. into a European country since World War II.
SIDES FAR APART
The fighting has settled into an abrasive pattern of sieges of cities, with Ukrainian officials reporting Russian attacks on schools, hospitals and cultural facilities.
The United Nations human rights office in Geneva says it has recorded 2,032 civilian casualties so far in Ukraine – 780 killed and 1,252 injured. Some 3.2 million civilians, mostly women and children, have now fled to neighboring countries, the United Nations says.
The fourth day in a row of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators took place by televised video, but the Kremlin said an agreement had not yet been reached.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Our delegation is making great efforts. “Our delegation … was ready to work around the clock – but unfortunately we did not see such enthusiasm on the Ukrainian side.”
Moscow earlier said it was close to agreeing on a formula to keep Ukraine neutral, one of its demands.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said the negotiations were complicated. “The positions of the parties are different. For us, the fundamental issues are sacrosanct,” he said.
Ukraine says it is ready to negotiate to end the war but will not surrender or accept Russia’s ultimatums. It sticks to its core view that it holds sovereignty over the areas occupied since 2014 by Russian and pro-Russian forces.
Kyiv and its Western allies say Russia waged the war to subdue a neighboring country, which Putin calls an artificial state. Moscow said it was carrying out a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Zelenskiy spoke before the German Senate by video link on Thursday, making no emphasis on the speech alluding to the Holocaust and the Berlin Wall, and appeared intended to embarrass pro-Russian politicians in Germany, Moscow’s main energy customer.
Zelenskiy, who is of Jewish descent, says: “Every year politicians repeat ‘never repeat’, citing the slogan used to mark the Holocaust.
“And now we see that these words are simply worthless. In Europe, a people are being destroyed, they are trying to destroy everything that is dear to us, what we live in. for what.”
THE WAY FOR BILLION SURVEYS
The Russians failed to capture a major city in the face of moral resistance from Ukrainian forces defending residential areas that were under daily bombardment.
Rescuers in Mariupol, a southern port city, dug survivors from the rubble of a theater that officials said was hit by an air strike Wednesday as civilians hide there from the shelling. Russia denies attacking the theater.
Mariupol suffered the worst humanitarian disaster of the war, with hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in basements without food, water or electricity. City officials say they are yet to estimate the number of casualties from the theater.
“Yesterday and today, despite continuous shelling, the rubble is being cleared as much as possible and people are being rescued. Information about the victims is still being clarified,” the city council said. City said in a statement.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said accusations of Russia bombing the theater were lies and that “Russia’s armed forces do not bomb towns and cities”.
The World Health Organization said on Thursday it had verified 43 attacks on medical facilities in Ukraine that left 12 people dead and dozens more injured, including medical staff.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the UN Security Council without specifying who was responsible for the attacks: “In any conflict, in any conflict, attacks on healthcare are a violation of international humanitarian law”.
Kyiv’s northeastern and northwestern suburbs have been badly damaged but the capital itself holds its ground, under curfew and subject to deadly nightly missile attacks.
A building in the Darnytsky district of Kyiv was severely damaged. As residents cleared their glasses, a man knelt down to cry over a woman’s body covered in blood.
Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said Russian forces had not made any significant progress around Kyiv in the past 24-48 hours and had resorted to “chaotic” shelling.
“Ukrainian armed forces are doing everything to prevent the enemy from attacking from that area,” he told a news conference in Kyiv. He said several residential buildings were damaged by rockets, killing civilians.
“This is a war crime, but the exact number is not given,” he said.
British military intelligence on Thursday said the Russian invasion has largely stalled on all fronts, with Russian forces suffering heavy losses and making only minimal progress on land. at sea or in the air in recent days.
Viacheslav Chaus, governor of the Chernihiv city center region north of the front line, said 53 civilians had been killed there in the past 24 hours. Fees cannot be independently verified.