2/2 © Reuters. Firefighters work at the scene of a fire in Barabashova Market as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 17, 2022. REUTERS/Oleksandr Lapshyn 2/2

KYIV/LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden tried in a video call with his Chinese counterpart Friday to prevent Beijing from reviving Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as stalled Russian forces continued to bomb cities.

As Russia sought to retake the initiative, three missiles landed at an airport near Lviv, a western city where hundreds of thousands believed they had found refuge far from Ukraine’s battlefields.

Russia’s defense ministry said it “tightened the noose” around the besieged southern port of Mariupol, where officials say more than 1,000 people are still trapped in makeshift air raid shelters beneath a destroyed theater.

Ukraine said it rescued 130 people from the theater’s basement after the building was flattened by Russian attacks two days ago. Russia denies hitting the theater and says it is not targeting civilians.

China is the only major power yet to condemn the Russian attack, and Washington says it fears Beijing is considering giving Moscow financial and military aid, something both Russia and China deny.

Xi said conflicts like the events in Ukraine are in no one’s interest, and that NATO should hold talks with Russia to resolve the factors behind the conflict, Chinese state media reported, adding that the call had been at Biden’s request.

The White House only said the two men spoke for just under two hours. Earlier, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Xi should tell Russian President Vladimir Putin to end “this massacre war” in Ukraine.

‘MINIMUM PROGRESS’

As the fourth week of Putin’s attempt to subjugate what he calls an artificial state that does not deserve a nation, Ukraine’s elected government is still standing and Russian troops have not taken a single major city.

Putin promised tens of thousands of people waving Russian flags at a Moscow football stadium that the “special operation” would succeed.

“We know what to do, how to do it and at what cost. And we will absolutely realize all our plans,” Putin said, adding that Russian soldiers, if necessary, “protect each other from bullets with their bodies as brothers.” “.

State television interrupted his speech halfway through a sentence; Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said the interruption was due to a technical glitch.

Russian troops have suffered heavy casualties as they blasted residential areas to rubble, forcing more than 3 million refugees to flee across Ukraine’s western border.

Ukraine said its forces on Friday had prevented their Russian opponents from making further advances and that the Russians were having problems with food, fuel and communications.

Britain said Russian forces had made minimal progress this week. “Ukrainian forces around Kiev and Mykolaiv continue to frustrate Russian attempts to encircle the cities,” the Defense Ministry said.

Jakob Kern, emergency coordinator for the crisis at the UN’s World Food Programme, said Ukraine’s “food supply chain is falling apart. Freight traffic has been slowed down due to insecurity and driver reluctance”.

Oksana Zalavska, 42, fled Mariupol two days ago after staying in an overcrowded bomb shelter where adults ate a small meal a day because rations were low.

“Now I know all about famine in 2022,” she said.

WFP, which feeds people in global crisis areas, also buys nearly half of its wheat from Ukraine. Kern said the war has already pushed world food prices to unprecedented heights, and could cause “side hunger” in poor countries around the world.

INTENSE PROTECTION

Russia has been shelling eastern Ukrainian cities intensively, notably Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkov and Mariupol.

Columns attacking Kiev from the northwest and east have been held back by fighting at the gates of the capital. But residents have endured nighttime deadly rocket attacks.

Debris from a rocket blew a large crater into the ground on Friday in the center of a residential block that also housed a school in northern Kiev, shattering hundreds of windows and leaving debris scattered around the complex.

At least one person was killed, the emergency services said. The mayor of Kiev said 19 people were injured, including four children.

“This is Putin’s war crime,” said Lyudmila Nikolaenko, who visited her son, who lived in one of the affected apartments. “They say they don’t hit ordinary people, they say we shoot ourselves.”

BIDEN PRESSES BEIJING

Kiev and Moscow both described progress this week in peace talks toward a political formula that would keep Ukraine out of the NATO alliance but protected with another form of guarantee. Ukraine has demanded an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops, and both sides accused each other on Friday of delaying negotiations.

With financial sanctions and diplomatic exclusion cutting Russia off from advanced economies, China is Russia’s last major economic lifeline. Putin and Xi signed a borderless friendship treaty three weeks before the invasion, which echoed some of Russia’s grievances about Ukraine.

China has so far taken a cautious stance, abstaining from voting on UN resolutions condemning Russia, while refusing to label the attack as an invasion that criticized the West.

But Washington, which this week announced $800 million in new military aid to Kiev, now says Moscow wants more from Beijing than just diplomatic cover.

Biden, who has described Putin as a “murderous dictator”, would make it clear to Xi that China “will bear responsibility for all actions it takes to support Russian aggression,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken told reporters on Thursday.

“Beijing will do everything it can to avoid openly taking sides, but its previously relatively free-of-charge relationship with Russia has become complicated and now exposes China to growing geopolitical, economic and reputational risks,” said Helena Legarda, principal analyst. at the Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Hours before the call, China sailed an aircraft carrier through the sensitive Taiwan Strait — overshadowed by a US destroyer — said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.


This post US seeks help from China to end Russia’s war in Ukraine By Reuters was original published at “https://www.investing.com/news/world-news/russian-sanctions-over-ukraine-grow-biden-to-talk-to-xi-2787171”

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