The Russian army has intensified attacks against several Ukrainian cities on Wednesday. In kyiv, the bombings have caused the collapse of a 12-storey residential building and another of 9 floors, causing at least two injuries, according to the Ukrainian State Emergency Service. The attacks have been repeated in besieged Mariupol, where Ukrainian authorities say Russian troops have taken 400 doctors and hospital patients hostage, as well as in Zaporizhia and the outskirts of Odessa. Despite this, the representatives of Russia and Ukraine continue to negotiate a way out of the conflict and begin to bring their positions closer together. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that there are several issues on which an agreement is close, such as Ukraine’s neutral status. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, pointed out on Tuesday night that the meetings will continue in the coming days and that “the positions in the negotiations sound more realistic.”
In the early hours of this Wednesday, at least three strong explosions could be heard in the west of the capital, an area that had already been a military target the day before. There are at least two people injured and 35 have been evacuated from the attacked residential building, which has collapsed, in a city that is in full curfew and where the attacks are focused on civilian targets. The bombed-out Ukrainian capital received on Tuesday the risky visit of three heads of government from EU countries – Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia – to meet with Zelenski, who thanked the gesture of support. “Your visit to kyiv in these difficult times for Ukraine is a clear sign of support,” he said through his official Telegram channel, in a message accompanied by a video of the meeting. The three leaders are now back on EU territory.
One of the cities hardest hit by Russia is Mariupol, a city located on the Black Sea that has been suffering from a humanitarian catastrophe for days. There, Ukraine denounces that the Russian Army “has taken doctors and patients hostage, and has taken at least 400 people from houses near the basement of the hospital,” explained the Human Rights Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament on Tuesday in a report. release. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said Wednesday that Russian troops are firing from there and has called for the release of the hostages.
Precisely from Mariupol some 20,000 people managed to escape the previous day through the humanitarian corridors, but “hundreds of thousands” remain in its streets in a critical situation. Before the war, the city had about 450,000 inhabitants. The city is a key piece for Moscow to link the Crimean peninsula, illegally annexed in 2014, with the pro-Russian separatist zone of Donbas, in the east of the country.
The Russian Army has also attacked civilian targets this Wednesday in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia, in the south of the country, as reported in his Telegram account Oleksandr Starukh, military official of the administration of the region of the same name. In Zaporizhia is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, currently controlled by Russian troops, as is the case in Chernobyl. According to Starukh, the missiles launched by the Russian troops hit the area of the Zaporizhia-2 railway station and the area where the city’s botanical garden is located. For now, there is no record of victims.
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In addition to the bombing, the population is subjected to the constant crushing caused by anti-aircraft alarms. Tonight in Odessa, on the shores of the Black Sea, the sound warnings have sounded repeatedly since 4:30 in the morning. It is a pattern that is repeated these days in practically the entire country, where Russian bombardments are usually just before dawn. The population not only suffers from the terror of the attacks directed at homes, but they also contribute to the exhaustion of weeks on alert and without being able to sleep.
closer to agreement
Despite the military movements, the negotiation between Russia and Ukraine seems closer this Wednesday than the day before. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, has pointed out that both countries are now closer to reaching agreements on some commitments, such as the neutrality status of kyiv, that is, that it does not enter NATO, a line red for Moscow. “I am guided by the assessments of our negotiators. They say that negotiations are not easy for obvious reasons. However, there is hope of reaching a compromise,” Lavrov said. However, he has also added to Russian television RBC that other important issues remain to be discussed, such as the use of the Russian language in Ukraine and “freedom of expression” in that country.
“There are a number of formulations of the agreements with Ukraine on the status of neutrality and security guarantees that have been on the verge of being achieved,” Lavrov maintained, lamenting that his Ukrainian counterpart, Dimitro Kuleba, “did not present new ideas ” during the trilateral contact held last week in Turkey. “After an hour and a half of meeting and despite the fact that I remembered on three or four occasions that I wanted to hear something that was not in the public sphere, he did not present new ideas.” Lavrov has considered that the United States has a decisive role in defining the position of the Ukrainian authorities and has stated that they are not seeing on the part of that country any interest in resolving the “conflict” “quickly”.
For his part, the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelensky, deepened this Tuesday night in the idea that Ukraine will never be part of NATO. After days of demanding, without results, that the Atlantic Alliance impose a no-fly zone over the country to avoid air attacks by the invading Russian forces, the president has stressed that citizens are beginning to realize that the country depends on himself and with the help of his allies, has charged against the Alliance and has warned that other countries may be the next to suffer from Russian aggression. “Ukraine is not a member of NATO. We get it,” he has said. “For years we have heard about the so-called open door, but we have already heard that we must not enter. That is how it is and we must admit it”, Zelensky stressed in a videoconference meeting with the leaders of the member countries of the Joint Expeditionary Force.
Meanwhile, the judges of the United Nations International Court of Justice (ITJ) rule on Wednesday on the precautionary measures requested by Ukraine to “stop Russian military activity” in the country. kyiv requested these urgent measures a few hours after the Russian invasion, which occurred on February 24. Ukraine alleges that Moscow has twisted the notion of genocide against the Russian-speaking population of the Ukrainian region of Donbas, located in the east of the country, to justify aggression. The decision of the ICJ cannot stop the war in itself, but precautionary measures would serve to avoid aggravating the situation. Russia has not appeared at the hearings in this case, held last week in The Hague.