Peace talks pause as Russian forces pound targets around Kyiv

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March 14 (UPI) — A fourth round of peace talks concluded Monday with little sign of progress as Russian intensified attacks on civilian areas of Ukraine.

The talks ware scheduled to resume Tuesday.

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Russia continued to heavily bomb parts of the capital Kyiv and 400,000 people were still trapped in Mariupol.

Negotiators met virtually via a video link for the first time rather than in person. Ukrainian presidential adviser and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak described the talks earlier today on social media as “tough but ongoing.”

“The parties actively express their specified positions,” Podolyak said on Twitter. “Communication is being held, yet it’s hard. The reason for the discord is two different political systems.

“Ukraine is a free dialogue within the society and an obligatory consensus. [Russia] is an ultimatum suppression of its own society.”

Podolyak announced later in the day “a technical pause,” on the talks until Tuesday.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov responded Monday to European statements that Russian forces were making “slow progress” in large cities by saying that Russia has not seized them because “armed clashes in urban areas would inevitably lead to big losses among civilians,” The New York Times reported.

Peskov added that Russia could still seize them since they were “already practically encircled anyway.”

Russian strikes on Kyiv on Monday included a strike on an apartment building that the city’s mayor said killed at least one person. Russian attacks also intensified in Mariupol in southern Ukraine, where an airstrike last week targeted a children’s hospital and maternity ward.

Russian forces also targeted an Antonov aircraft plant in Kyiv. The location, also known as Hostomel, is less than 10 miles from the center of Kyiv and is one of the country’s most critical international cargo airports and military bases.

An unnamed senior U.S. official told reporters in Washington that the Russian military continues to try to encircle and isolate Kharkiv and Mariupol and the United States is starting to see them do the same to the capital Kyiv, and Russia has been increasing the amount of long-range fire targeting cities and population centers that are holding out.

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“What we’re seeing on the ground is a continued military effort to subdue these population centers and to do it now with evermore violence using, you know, more and more long range fires, which are increasingly indiscriminate,” the official said, adding since the war began Russia has fired more than 900 missiles at Ukraine with its combat power at just below 90%.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said efforts to create 10 humanitarian corridors for civilians have collapsed again around Kyiv and the eastern Luhansk region due to Russian bombings.

Officials in Mariupol said that almost 2,200 people there have died amid the fighting and thousands are isolated because of a Russian blockade that’s cutting off food, water and other basic supplies.

“Ukraine is on fire and being decimated before the eyes of the world,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a tweet Monday. “This tragedy must stop. We need an immediate cessation of hostilities and serious negotiations based on the principles of the U.N. Charter and international law.”

Fox News journalist Benjamin Hall was injured while reporting on the invasion outside of Kyiv, the network said Monday.

“We have a minimal level of details right now, but Ben is hospitalized and our teams on the ground are working to gather additional information as the situation quickly unfolds,” Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said.

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Meanwhile, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan met Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday, after U.S. officials said Russia has requested military and economic help from Beijing. China denied the report.

Monday’s developments follow a bloody weekend across Ukraine.

On Sunday, Ukrainian officials said Russian airstrikes killed more than three dozen people at a military base in Yavoriv. The facility, 15 miles from the Poland border, is the closest the war has come to a NATO country. Poland has taken in more than 1.7 million of the 2.8 million Ukrainians made refugees by the war, according to United Nations data.

European Union leaders attend a summit at the Chateau de Versailles near Paris on March 11, 2022. Photo by the European Union/ UPI | License Photo