Ukraine crisis: Zelensky calls for fresh talks, Russia says entered Mariupol centre

Russia’s offensive remains largely stalled, a US defence official said



AFP/ Ukrainian Presidency
AFP/ Ukrainian Presidency

Published: Sat 19 Mar 2022, 10:16 AM

Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky made a fresh appeal for talks with Moscow Saturday, while Russia said its soldiers had entered the centre of besieged port city Mariupol.

As bitter fighting between local forces and Russian troops rages across the country more than three weeks into the assault, the two sides are already holding negotiations remotely.

But so far, as in previous rounds, the talks have yielded little progress, with both sides blaming the other, and none have been at the presidential level.

“This is the time to meet, to talk, time for renewing territorial integrity and fairness for Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a video posted to Facebook.

“Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such, that several generations will not recover.”

Russia’s offensive remains largely stalled, a US defence official said, with troops about 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of the capital Kyiv and facing heavy resistance.

The official added that Russian forces had made no further progress into the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, which they have encircled, and that Ukrainians were also defending the northern city of Chernihiv.

Britain’s defence ministry said Russia was struggling to provide its forward troops “with even basic essentials such as food and fuel” because of Ukrainian attacks on their supply lines.

But Russia’s defence ministry said Friday that the army and its separatist allies had made a breakthrough in Mariupol, which has been under Russian shelling for days, and were now inside the city.

“In Mariupol, units of the Donetsk People’s Republic, with the support of the Russian armed forces, are squeezing the encirclement and fighting against nationalists in the city centre,” the ministry said.

The mayor of the city confirmed to the BBC that gun battles had reached the heart of Mariupol.

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