By Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets
LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – The United States warned China against providing military or financial aid to Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine, as sanctions increased against Russian political and business leaders and civilians tried to flee intense fighting on the ground.
Further talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators to ease the crisis were expected on Tuesday, after talks ended via video on Monday with no new progress announced.
Two powerful explosions shook the capital Kiev before dawn, and air raid sirens were heard in several regions, including Odessa, Chernihiv, Cherkasy and Smila.
Thousands have been killed in fierce fighting and bombing since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Russia calls its actions a “special military operation” to “denazify” the country and prevent genocide, a claim the United States and its allies reject as a pretext for an unwarranted and illegal attack.
According to US officials, Russia has asked for military and economic support from Beijing, indicating its readiness to provide assistance.
Moscow denies that and says it has sufficient resources to achieve all its objectives. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has labeled the aid reports as “disinformation”.
“We have communicated very clearly to Beijing that we will not stand firm,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters after US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome. . “We will not allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses.”
The seven-hour meeting was “intense” and reflected “the gravity of the moment,” said a US official.
In Russia, a rare anti-war protest took place in a studio during the main news program on state television’s Channel One, which is the main news source for millions of Russians and closely follows the Kremlin’s lead.
A woman held up a sign in English and Russian that read, “NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They’re lying to you here.”
The British Ministry of Defense said Russia may be planning to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine in response to a fake fake attack on Russian forces, citing no evidence. US officials have made similar statements.
Russia accuses Ukraine of using biological weapons. The United Nations said Friday it had no evidence that Kiev had such a program.
Moscow on Monday released the first convoy from besieged Mariupol, home to the conflict’s worst humanitarian crisis.
“In the first two hours, 160 cars left,” Andrei Rempel, a representative of the Mariupol city council, told Reuters.
Local authorities say between 2,300 and 20,000 civilians have been killed in Russian shelling in the city so far, a toll that cannot be independently confirmed.
The United Nations says more than 2.8 million people have left Ukraine since the war started.
“I am fleeing with my child because I want my child to live,” said a Ukrainian woman named Tanya, who said she traveled across the Danube to Romania from the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. “Because the people who are there now are Russians, Russian soldiers, and they kill children.”
Russia says it is not targeting civilians.
EU member states agreed on Monday to a fourth package of sanctions against Russia, France said.
Details were not officially released, but diplomatic sources said, among other things, an import ban on Russian steel and iron, an export ban on luxury goods and a ban on investment in the energy sector. Chelsea football team owner Roman Abramovich and 14 others would be added to the EU’s blacklist, the sources said.
Japan on Tuesday announced an asset freeze on 17 Russian individuals, including 11 members of the Russian State Duma, or parliament, five relatives of banker Yuri Kovalchuk, as well as billionaire Viktor Vekselberg after similar US moves.
Western-led sanctions have cut off Russia from key parts of global financial markets and frozen nearly half of the country’s $640 billion gold and foreign exchange reserves, sparking the worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union. Union in 1991.
Russia’s finance ministry said it is preparing to pay off some of its foreign exchange debt on Wednesday, but such payments will be made in rubles if sanctions prevent banks from paying debts in the currency of issue.
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