© Reuters. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 15,
By Pavel Polityuk, Natalia Zinets and Omer Berberoglu
LVIV/KYIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday said peace talks sounded more realistic but needed more time, as Russian air strikes killed five people in Kyiv capital and the number of refugees from Moscow’s invasion amounted to 3 million.
Moscow failed to capture any of Ukraine’s 10 largest cities after an offensive that began on February 24, the largest attack on a European country since 1945.
Ukrainian officials have raised hopes the war could end sooner than expected, possibly in May, saying Moscow could soon face failure to impose a new government by force and new troops are running out.
“The meetings continued, and I was told, the positions in the negotiations already sounded more realistic. But it still takes time for decisions to be in Ukraine’s favour,” Zelenskiy said in a statement. video presentation on Wednesday, before the next round of talks.
In a hint of a possible compromise, Zelenskiy said Ukraine was prepared to accept security guarantees from the West beyond its long-term goal of joining NATO. Moscow views any future Ukraine membership in the Western alliance as a threat and has demanded guarantees that it never joins.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was too early to predict the progress of the talks. “Work is tough, and in the current situation it’s probably a positive thing that (negotiations) are continuing.”
Russia called its actions a “special military operation” aimed at the demilitarization and “denuclearization” of Ukraine. Ukraine and its Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has raised fears of broader conflict in Europe.
US President Joe Biden will make his first visit to Europe since Russia invaded Ukraine to discuss the crisis with NATO allies next week, the White House said.
Biden will attend a meeting of NATO leaders at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels on March 24.
Biden is expected to announce $800 million in additional security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, a White House official said.
KYIV BOMBED, 5 KILLS
Just over 3 million people have left Ukraine so far, according to the United Nations, with more than 1.8 million arriving in neighboring Poland. Its prime minister and those of Slovenia and the Czech Republic were in Kyiv on Tuesday to show solidarity.
In Kyiv, about half of its 3.4 million residents have fled and some spend nights sheltering in metro stations.
Local authorities said Tuesday’s shelling of Kyiv killed at least five people as buildings caught fire and people were buried under rubble. Russia denies targeting civilians.
The local council said about 2,000 cars had left the southern port city of Mariupol, the site of the worst humanitarian crisis.
However, a convoy carrying supplies to Mariupol, whose residents were sheltering from constant Russian bombardment and in dire need of food and water, became stranded in nearby Berdyansk, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
More than 100 buses carrying several thousand civilians have left the besieged northeastern city of Sumy in a “safe passage” operation, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Tuesday. They were heading towards Lubny in central Ukraine after the Russians gave the green light to evacuate.
Russia says it now controls the Kherson region in southern Ukraine. Reuters was unable to independently verify the report.
Fox News reports that a second journalist working for the cable network was killed in Ukraine in the same incident, in which a Fox cameraman was killed when their vehicle was hit on Monday by fire from the side. prior to.
The conflict has led to economic isolation for Russia and the economic costs were borne entirely on Wednesday as its sanctioned government was on the brink of its first international default since. from the Bolshevik revolution.
Moscow was scheduled to pay $117 million in interest on two dollar-denominated government bonds it resold in 2013, but it faces payment limits and has talked about paying. payment in rubles, which would lead to default.
The crisis is also unfolding in the form of rising energy costs in many Western countries, with some heavily reliant on exports from Russia and following a ban on US oil imports from the country.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the Middle East on Wednesday to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in the United Arab Emirates before meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia in an effort to ensure ample oil flows. than.
“We will work with them to ensure regional security, support humanitarian relief efforts and stabilize global energy markets over the long term,” Johnson said.
The United States, the European Union and Britain announced additional sanctions on Tuesday, while Moscow retaliated by placing Biden and other American officials on a “stop list” banning them from entering Russia.
The latest EU sanctions include bans on investments in the energy sector, exports of luxury goods to Moscow and imports of steel products from Russia.
They also froze the assets of many business leaders believed to be pro-Russian state, including Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich.