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Russian forces renew bombardment of Mariupol and edge closer to Kyiv, as diplomatic talks fail to make progress.

Talks between Ukraine’s and Russia’s foreign ministers failed to bring a diplomatic breakthrough as hundreds of thousands of civilians remained trapped in Ukrainian cities under Russian bombardment.

Russia renewed attacks on the southern port of Mariupol on Thursday, a day after a children’s and maternity hospital in the city was devastated and three people were killed in what Ukraine said was a Russian bombing. Russia has denied firing on civilian targets and claimed Ukraine staged the attack.

Russian military units edged closer to the capital Kyiv, where half the city’s population has now fled.

Russian forces are also attempting to establish de facto control over links between the eastern city of Kharkiv and nearby Izyum, and are trying to advance north of Mykolaiv to cut the southern city from its main supply lines.

Overall, Ukrainian forces continued to halt significant Russian battlefield gains.


Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said no progress was made on achieving a ceasefire in Ukraine during talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Thursday, in the first high-level talks between the two sides since Russia invaded on February 24.

The Russian foreign minister has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin would “not refuse” a meeting with the Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss “specific” issues.

But Ukraine said on Thursday that Moscow had refused to guarantee humanitarian access to rescue civilians trapped under bombardment in Mariupol.

At least some of the humanitarian corridors in Ukraine established after long negotiations and failures are still working, as more than 2,000 people were evacuated from Izyum during the last 24 hours.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba attend Russia-Turkiye-Ukraine
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, centre, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Antalya, Turkey [Cem Özdel/Anadolu Agency]

Drone ambush

Meanwhile, drone footage circulated online of an apparent Ukrainian ambush on a column of Russian tanks.

Bellingcat, a team of open-source investigators, said they had geolocated the video to a lightly inhabited area on the E95 road heading towards Kyiv – a direct route to the east of the capital where Russian forces are trying to mass.

On a visit to Warsaw, US Vice President Kamala Harris said the United States and Poland are “united” over Ukraine after Washington rejected an offer by Warsaw to transfer its MiG-29 fighter jets to Kyiv via a US airbase in Germany.

She also said US military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine is an “ongoing process”.

Although Ukrainian forces have fiercely resisted the more powerful Russian military, Kyiv says it lacks weapons such as missile defence systems and anti-tank missiles.

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Source: Al Jazeera

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