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War in Ukraine | Russian negotiator sees ‘progress’ in talks



(Lviv) A Russian negotiator estimated on Sunday that the talks between Kyiv and Moscow were progressing, at a time when diplomatic contacts are increasing despite the active continuation of the fighting.

“If we compare the position of the two delegations between the start of the negotiations and now, then we see significant progress,” said Leonid Slutsky, an MP who was part of the Russian delegation who recently met with Ukrainian negotiators in Belarus.

“My personal expectation is that this progress will lead very soon to a common position between the two delegations and to documents to be signed,” he added, quoted by Russian news agencies.


“If we compare the position of the two delegations between the start of the negotiations and now, then we see significant progress,” said Leonid Slutsky, an MP who was part of the Russian delegation who recently met with Ukrainian negotiators in Belarus.

Since the start of Moscow’s military offensive on February 24, three rounds of talks have taken place in Belarus. They were mainly focused on creating humanitarian corridors for civilians.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian Dmytro Kouleba left discussions in Turkey without announcing tangible progress, but pledged to continue their dialogue.

On Sunday, Mykhailo Podoliak, one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisers, tweeted that Moscow had stopped issuing “ultimatums” to Kyiv and started to “listen carefully to our proposals”.

While Mr. Zelensky stressed on Saturday that Moscow had taken a “fundamentally different” approach to these negotiations, his counterpart Vladimir Putin told him on Friday that he had seen “positive progress” in the talks.

A session of negotiations by videoconference between Russia and Ukraine will be held on Monday, confirmed Sunday evening Mykhaïlo Podoliak, a negotiator and adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“A negotiation session will take place on Monday to summarize the preliminary results” of the talks, he wrote on his Twitter account. Earlier in the evening, the spokesperson for the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov had announced the holding of this exchange Monday by videoconference.

Humanitarian convoy to Mariupol turns back

The Russian army continued to pound the south of the country where the besieged city of Mariupol hoped for the arrival of a convoy of humanitarian aid on Sunday.

The convoy “is 2 hours from Mariupol, 80 km away,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said late Sunday morning. But an adviser to the mayor, Petro Andryushchenko, told AFP in the evening that the vehicles had to turn around because of the incessant Russian fire. A new attempt was scheduled for Monday.


The city of Mariupol is plunged into an “almost desperate” situation according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), lacking food and deprived of water, gas, electricity and communications.

The stakes are crucial for Mariupol: the strategic port city, located between Crimea and the Donbass, is plunged into an “almost desperate” situation according to Médecins sans frontières (MSF), lacking food and deprived of water, gas, electricity and communications.

More than 2,100 residents of Mariupol have been killed since the start of the Russian offensive, the town hall of the city announced on Sunday.

“Occupiers cynically and deliberately strike residential buildings, densely populated areas, destroy children’s hospitals and urban infrastructure […]. To date, 2,187 residents of Mariupol have perished in the Russian attacks,” Mariupol City Hall reported on Telegram.

“In 24 hours, we have experienced 22 bombings of a peaceful town. Around 100 bombs have already been dropped on Mariupol,” he added.

A previous report on Friday from local authorities estimated the number of inhabitants killed at 1,582.

The pope on Sunday urged an end to the fighting, calling Mariupol “a martyr city in the atrocious war that is devastating Ukraine”.

Moscow recognizes that the situation “in some cities” has taken on “catastrophic proportions”, in the words of General Mikhail Mizintsev, quoted on Saturday by Russian news agencies. But the military accused Ukrainian “nationalists” of mining residential areas and destroying infrastructure.

According to the Ukrainian president, “125,000 people have been evacuated through humanitarian corridors”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Sunday against “a worst-case scenario” in Mariupol, if the belligerents “do not urgently reach a humanitarian agreement”.

“The ICRC is ready to act as a neutral intermediary to facilitate dialogue between the parties on these humanitarian issues,” said a press release.

“Time is running out for the hundreds of thousands of people trapped in the fighting. History will judge with horror what is happening in Mariupol if no agreement is reached as soon as possible between the parties,” the text insists.

Strike on a military base in the west

During the night, Russian forces struck a military base about twenty kilometers from the Polish border, a NATO member country, which has served in recent years as a training ground for Ukrainian forces under the supervision of instructors foreigners, especially Americans and Canadians.

It was one of the main centers for joint military exercises between Ukrainian and NATO forces. It is on this base that part of the military aid delivered to Ukraine by Western countries arrives.

Sunday’s strikes come as Russia a day earlier threatened to target Western arms supplies to Ukraine. According to regional governor Maxim Kozitsky, the strikes were carried out from the Black and Azov Seas and left 35 dead and 134 injured.

The Russian army claimed to have killed “foreign mercenaries” during strikes on Sunday against “the locality of Staritchi and the military base of Yavoriv”.

“As a result of this strike, up to 180 foreign mercenaries and a significant amount of foreign weapons have been eliminated,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said during a briefing. figure cannot be independently confirmed by AFP.

Shelling in Mykolaiv

Still to the south, the metropolis of Odessa continues to prepare for an offensive by Russian troops, who are currently concentrating about a hundred kilometers to the east on Mykolaiv.


A man stands next to snow-covered body bags in the courtyard of a morgue in Mykolaiv last Friday.

Eleven people were killed in Russian strikes on this port city, according to Ukrainian authorities.

In the morning, the governor of the region, Vitali Kim, had indicated that “nine people had died in the bombardments” Russian, in giving more details.

In the afternoon, the Ukrainian emergency services and the governor reported a new strike, this time against a school, posting images of the destroyed building on Telegram.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Dniprorudne, in the south, was kidnapped by Russian soldiers on Sunday two days after another mayor was kidnapped, according to the governor of the Zaporizhia region. These abductions have been condemned by the European Union.

And in Kherson, still in the south, several thousand Ukrainians demonstrated against the occupation of their city by the Russian army, according to local media. Videos posted on an independent media site showed a crowd shouting “Go home! », « Go home while you are still alive! or “Kherson – this is Ukraine”.

The toll of the victims, some of whom litter the streets of cities, is impossible to verify. At least 596 civilians have been killed, according to the United Nations tally on Sunday, which stresses that its tolls are probably much lower than the reality.

“About 1,300” Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since February 24, Zelensky said on Saturday. The Russian army has lost “about 12,000 men”, says the head of state. Russia, for its part, announced on March 2 its one and only death toll of 498 soldiers.

Kyiv, whose only roads to the south remain clear, is increasingly surrounded by Russian soldiers, who destroyed the nearby airport of Vassylkiv on Saturday, according to the Ukrainians.


Ukrainian soldiers march towards the town of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv.

In its suburbs, in Irpin, an American journalist, Brent Renaud, was shot dead there on Sunday, and another injured.

The two American journalists were hit at midday while driving with a Ukrainian civilian, also injured, said Danylo Shapovalov, a doctor engaged with the Ukrainian forces who took care of the victims.

The mayor of Irpin, Oleksandr Markushin, then announced the ban on entry to his city to journalists.

According to Ukrainian soldiers interviewed by AFP on Sunday in Irpin, the town of Boutcha is now in Russian hands.

However, they are encountering resistance from the Ukrainian army, both west and east of the capital, AFP journalists noted.

Phosphorus bombs?

Vladimir Putin also always displays his determination. On Saturday, the Russian president accused Ukrainian forces of “flagrant violations” of humanitarian law, during a telephone interview with French leaders Emmanuel Macron and German Olaf Scholz.

“Lies”, reacted the French presidency. And calls from MM. Macron and Scholz to an “immediate ceasefire” remained a dead letter.

On Sunday, a Ukrainian official accused Moscow of using phosphorus bombs in the east. According to Oleksi Bilochytsky, chief of police of Popasna, located about a hundred kilometers west of Luhansk, the Russians used such bombs on his locality.

“It’s what the Nazis called a ‘burning onion’, and it’s what the ‘Russians’ (combination of Russians and fascists, editor’s note) are unleashing on our cities. Indescribable suffering and fires,” he wrote on Facebook.

This information was immediately unverifiable.

Westerners refuse to enter into the conflict, but have multiplied economic and trade sanctions against Russia, and assured Kyiv of particular military support.

Washington authorized $200 million in new arms aid on Saturday, following initial military equipment aid of $350 million, two-thirds of which had been delivered by March 4, according to a Pentagon official.

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