Kyiv: Russia launched a spate of airstrikes on cities across Ukraine on Monday, as warring sides blamed each other for deadly attacks in pro-Moscow separatist areas – but made little progress in ceasefire talks.
With Russian forces threatening to take “full control” of several major cities, the fourth round of talks failed to deliver a breakthrough on the 19th day of the invasion, with negotiations to resume on Tuesday.
On the international front, high-ranking US and Chinese officials met for a marathon seven hours of talks, as the United States raised the alarm about a possible Chinese “alignment” with Russia — which the West wants to isolate over the invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbour.
The talks, which follow reports Moscow asked Beijing for military and economic assistance as its troops struggle to make ground in Ukraine, were described by a senior US official as “very candid” — diplomatic code for a feisty exchange.
The United Nations estimates almost 2.8 million people have fled Ukraine since President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale land and air assault on February 24. It has recorded more than 600 civilian deaths, including dozens of children, though the true toll could be far higher.
During Russia’s most-watched evening news broadcast on Monday, a dissident employee entered the studio holding a poster reading “Stop the war. Don’t trust the propaganda,” Putin’s efforts to control the narrative of the deadly conflict was hit.
An opposition protest monitor said the woman, an editor for the tightly controlled state broadcaster Channel One, was detained following a highly unusual security incident.
On the opposite side of the information war, congressional leaders in Washington announced that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would deliver a high-profile virtual speech to both chambers on Wednesday as U.S. lawmakers sought to increase pressure on the White House to act. Take a tougher stance on Russian aggression.