Almost all of Russia’s assaults on Ukrainian cities remain stalled, and there have been little or no advances made over the weekend, a senior U.S. Defense Department source said Monday.
Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion remains strong, particularly around the cities of Kyiv and Cherniv, according to the official who was not authorized to speak publicly about intelligence assessments.
The assessment comes the same day Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the military operation is “proceeding in accordance with the original plan and will be completed on time and in full.”
The U.S. official acknowledged that some cities have been surrounded and face increasing bombardment from Russian long-range artillery and missile attacks. Russia has fired more than 900 missiles at Ukrainian targets since the invasion began, and the attacks have become increasingly indiscriminate, the official said.
The attack over the weekend on the Yavoriv military training base in western Ukraine consisted of dozens of cruise missiles launched by Russian bombers inside Russian airspace, the official said. The attack from a distance, the official said, showed that a no-fly zone over Ukraine sought by the battered nation would not necessarily prevent Russia from assaulting by air.
There were no U.S. troops, contractors or citizens at the base when the missiles struck, the official said. Florida National Guard troops had trained Ukrainian forces there, but left the base before the Russian invasion. At least 35 people died in the attack.
Russia, despite its advantages in warplanes, has not dominated Ukrainian airspace, the official said.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, about 50 Russian vehicles moved southeast of Kharkiv, apparently seeking to link up with Russian forces in the south, the official said. They appear intent on cutting off Ukrainian troops fighting in the eastern part of the country.
The long-stalled Russian convoy north of Kyiv remains mostly stuck, the official said.
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‘EVERYTHING WE CAN’:Polish border city throws its doors open to Ukrainians fleeing war
► A Russian rocket attack on a television tower in the western village of Antopol on Monday morning killed nine people, according to the governor of the Rivne region. The village is only about 100 miles from the border of NATO member Poland.
► Ukraine President Volodymy Zelenskyy’s makes his pitch for peace – and more weapons – in a virtual address to Congress planned for Wednesday morning.
►Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said he has asked his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to use Beijing’s influence over Moscow to end the war in Ukraine. “We are at a historical moment that requires responsibility and vision of all world leaders,” Albares said.
►The war’s impact on civilians is reaching “terrifying proportions,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said Monday. “Ukraine is on fire. The country is being decimated before the eyes of the world.”
►A convoy of 160 civilian cars left the besieged port city of Mariupol along a designated humanitarian route, the city council reported. Previous efforts to open humanitarian corridors collapsed amid missile attacks and gunfire.
►A pregnant Ukrainian woman and her unborn child have died, days after images were seen around the world of her being rushed on a stretcher to an ambulance amid the devastation of a maternity hospital bombing in Mariupol. The images epitomized the horror of Russian attacks on innocent Ukrainian civilians.
►Ramzan Kadyrov, the hardline leader of Russia’s Chechnya region accused of rights abuses by U.S. and European human rights groups, said he was meeting with Chechen troops aiding the Russian assault on Kyiv. Ukrainian forces he said, should surrender “or you will be finished.”
► At least 2.8 million Ukrainians have fled the country, the U.N. refugee agency said. Over 1.7 million of them exited through Poland.
A fourth round of talks aimed at ending or curtailing the devastating bombardment of Ukraine began Monday with the Russian side claiming significant progress and the bloodied but unbowed Ukrainians demanding a cease-fire, immediate withdrawal of all Russian troops and security guarantees.
The talks were halted for a “technical pause” and will continue Tuesday, an adviser to Ukraine President Volodymy Zelenskyy said. Mikhail Podolyak said additional work was needed in subcommittees, and that clarification of some terms was taking place. Podolyak said Ukraine’s demands remain unchanged despite a growing humanitarian crisis in some cities that has left hundreds of thousands of civilians struggling to obtain basic necessities such as food, water and medical supplies.
“Although Russia realizes the nonsense of its aggressive actions, it still has a delusion that 19 days of violence against peaceful cities is the right strategy,” Podolyak said on Twitter earlier Monday.
Russian delegate Leonid Slutsky had said the talks could “develop in the very next few days into a unified position of both delegations, into documents for signing,” Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
The talks are taking place via videolink after previous negotiations were held in neighboring Belarus, a Russian ally. The last round of talks were held a week ago, although on March 10 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba met while at a diplomatic forum in Turkey.
Poland’s foreign minister is accusing Russia of “state terrorism” for targeting civilians, schools, hospitals and infrastructure. Zbigniew Rau told the U.N. Security Council Monday that Russia’s “unprovoked, unjustified and premeditated aggression” against Ukraine aimed at breaking the people’s spirit. He said the Russian assault was poorly planned and executed and has become a strategic and tactical failure.
“Instead of preventing further unnecessary deaths in its own ranks, the Kremlin changed its tactics,” he said. “The invading force started to target the civilian population” in violation of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday that Ukraine President Volodymy Zelenskyy will address Congress virtually on Wednesday morning, saying the address is only open to members of Congress.
“Congress remains unwavering in our commitment to supporting Ukraine as they face Putin’s cruel and diabolical aggression, and to passing legislation to cripple and isolate the Russian economy as well as deliver humanitarian, security and economic assistance to Ukraine,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote in a letter to colleagues. “We look forward to the privilege of welcoming President Zelenskyy’s address to the House and Senate and to convey our support to the people of Ukraine as they bravely defend democracy.”
– Dylan Wells
The Red Cross warns of a “worst-case scenario” for hundreds of thousands of civilians in the besieged city of Mariupol unless the parties agree to ensure their safety and access to humanitarian aid. The agency said in a statement that hundreds of residents of Mariupol are “facing extreme or total shortages of basic necessities like food, water and medicine.”
The Red Cross statement described Mariupol as overwhelmed by “dead bodies – of civilians and combatants – that remain trapped under the rubble or lying in the open where they fell. Life-changing injuries and chronic, debilitating conditions cannot be treated. The human suffering is simply immense.”
The agency called on the parties to agree on the terms of a cease-fire and routes for safe passage and to ensure the deal is respected. It offered to act as a neutral intermediary in negotiations.
“Time is running out for the hundreds of thousands trapped by the fighting,” the statement said. “History will look back at what is now happening in Mariupol with horror if no agreement is reached by the sides as quickly as possible.”
National security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet with Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday. The White House emphasized that Monday’s discussion will cover a range of topics. But it’s the first high-level, in-person talks between the U.S. and China since Russia invaded Ukraine last month
As the war enters its third week and civilian casualties mount, Beijing has tried to stay on the sidelines. President Xi Jinping has called for peace but opposes sanctions against Russia. Xi could play a pivotal role – either in bolstering Russia militarily and economically or pressing Putin to stand down.
“Defining moment for Xi, China and 21st century,” tweeted Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Helping Russia would open China up to substantial sanctions and it would become a pariah, Haass wrote. Refusing would “keep open the possibility of at least selective cooperation” with the U.S. and the West. Read more here.
– Maureen Groppe
A pregnant woman and her baby have died after Russia bombed the maternity hospital where she was meant to give birth, the Associated Press reports. Images of the woman being rushed to an ambulance on a stretcher seen around the world epitomize the horror of an attack on humanity’s most innocent.
In video and photos shot Wednesday by AP journalists after the attack on the hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol, the woman was seen stroking her bloodied lower abdomen as rescuers rushed her through the rubble, her blanched face mirroring her shock at what had just happened. It was among the most brutal moments so far in Russia’s now 19-day-old war on Ukraine.
The woman was rushed to another hospital, yet closer to the front line, where doctors labored to keep her alive. Realizing she was losing her baby, medics said, she cried out to them, “Kill me now!”
Surgeon Timur Marin found the woman’s pelvis crushed and hip detached. Medics delivered the baby via cesarean section, but it showed “no signs of life,” the surgeon said.
Then, they focused on the mother.
“More than 30 minutes of resuscitation of the mother didn’t produce results,” Marin said Saturday.
The newly installed mayor in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city Melitopol said “Russian TV channels” would be broadcasting in the region soon. Galina Danilchenko said in a televised video Sunday claimed there was “a great deficit of trustworthy information being circulated,” as the decision for the broadcasting, according to CNN.
Her televised address was later posted on social media by pro-Russian Telegram channels and by the Ukrainian-controlled Zaporozhye regional administration.
Danilchenko was installed as mayor after elected mayor Ivan Fedorov was detained by armed men on Friday. The prosecutor’s office for the Russian-backed separatist region of Luhansk later accused Fedorov of terrorism offenses.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for Federov’s immediate release, saying his “abduction” was a “crime against democracy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report