Three European prime ministers took a train to Kiev on Tuesday in solidarity with Ukraine, even as Russian airstrikes and shelling hit the capital and invading forces tightened their grip.

At least five people have been killed in the renewed bombing of Kiev on the 20th day of the Russian attack, authorities said. Buildings were set on fire and people were buried under the rubble.

In the besieged port city of Mariupol, about 2,000 cars managed to leave and take civilians to safer areas, with another 2,000 waiting to follow, the city council said.


But a convoy carrying supplies for Mariupol, whose residents have howled against repeated Russian bombing and desperate for food and water, was trapped in nearby Berdyansk, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

She accused Russia of lying about honoring agreements to help detained civilians.

Peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations via video link resumed on Tuesday. Ukrainian officials hoped the war could end sooner than expected, saying Moscow may agree not to forcefully impose a new government on Kiev.

As a compromise, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Kiev is willing to accept security guarantees that fall short of its long-term goal of joining the NATO alliance, which Moscow opposes.

WHERE HISTORY IS FORGED
The visit to Kiev by the leaders of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic was a symbol of Ukraine’s success so far in repelling an attack that Western countries believe was aimed at taking the city weeks ago.

“It is our duty to be where history is forged. Because it is not about us, but about the future of our children who deserve to live in a world free from tyranny,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki .

Czech and Polish officials said the mission had been coordinated with the EU and agreed by its leaders at a summit last week. However, an official in Brussels said the trip poses serious security risks and could jeopardize negotiations.

About half of Kiev’s 3.4 million residents have fled and residents spend nights in metro stations.

Two powerful explosions shook Kiev before dawn on Tuesday and trail of light lit up the night sky. An apartment building was engulfed in flames after being hit by artillery.

Sitting on the ground outside, Igor Krupa said he survived because he slept under a makeshift shelter of furniture and metal weights.

“All the windows went out and all the debris went into the apartment,” he said.

But despite parts of cities having been reduced to rubble, Russian forces have stopped at the gates of Kiev and have not taken any of Ukraine’s 10 largest cities since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion on February 24.

Yet hundreds of civilians have been killed and nearly 3 million people, mostly women and children, have fled Ukraine for safety in neighboring countries.

At the Romanian border, a woman named Tanya, who crossed the Danube River to get to safety, said she fled the southern frontline city of Mykolaiv to rescue her child. “Because the people who are there now are Russians, Russian soldiers, and they kill children.”

POSITIVE SIGNS
Zelenskiy, who has come to admire in the West for his leadership under fire, called on the Russian troops to surrender.

“You will not take anything from Ukraine. You will take lives,” he said in a video message. ‘But why would you die? for what? I know you want to survive.’

He also indicated that Kiev may be willing to compromise on its ambitions for NATO membership – a factor that has infuriated Moscow.

“If we can’t get in through open doors, then we have to work with the associations that we can, that will help us, protect us…and have separate guarantees.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was too early to predict progress in peace talks: “The work is difficult, and in the current situation, the fact that (the talks) are continuing is probably positive.”

One of Zelensky’s chief aides said the war would be over by May or even weeks, as Russia ran out of fresh troops.

“We are now at a fork in the road,” Oleksiy Arestovich said in a video. He said he expects either a peace deal within a week or two, or another Russian effort with new reinforcements, which could extend the conflict for another month.

At the United Nations, Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow would stop what it calls its “special military operation” when its goals are achieved.

WAR LINES ON
In Rivne, western Ukraine, officials said 19 people were killed in a Russian airstrike on a TV tower. If confirmed, it would be the worst attack on a civilian target yet in the northwest where Russian ground forces have yet to enter.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

Peace talks so far have focused on local ceasefires to evacuate civilians and provide aid to surrounded cities.

Russia has had more success in southern Ukraine, saying on Tuesday it now controls the entire Kherson region. Reuters was unable to independently verify the claim

The conflict has brought Russia economic isolation. The United States, the European Union and Britain announced further sanctions on Tuesday, while Moscow retaliated by putting US President Joe Biden and other top officials on a “stop list” barring them from entering Russia.

The invasion has also resulted in a near-total suppression of freedom of expression in Russia, with all major independent media outlets shutting down and Western social media apps shutting down.

An employee of main state television stood behind an anchor during a news broadcast Monday, holding up an anti-war sign.

Marina Ovsyannikova was quickly arrested. The Kremlin called her protest “vandalism,” and the RIA news agency later reported that she had been fined 30,000 rubles ($280) for violating protest laws.


This post European leaders visit Kiev, Zelenskiy hints at compromise outside NATO was original published at “https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/european-leaders-visit-kyiv-zelenskiy-hints-at-compromise-outside-nato/articleshow/90237221.cms”

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