Apartment building shelled in Kyiv as talks slated on more civilian corridors

Lviv, Ukraine — Russia’s military forces kept up their punishing campaign to capture Ukraine’s capital with fighting and artillery fire in Kyiv’s suburbs Monday after an airstrike on a military base near the Polish border brought the war dangerously close to NATO’s doorstep.

Residents of besieged Ukrainian cities held out hope that renewed diplomatic talks might open the way for more civilians to evacuate or emergency supplies to reach areas where food, water and medicine are running short.

Air raid alerts sounded in cities and towns all around the country overnight, from near the Russian border in the east to the Carpathian Mountains in the west, as fighting continued on the outskirts of Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said Russian forces shelled several suburbs of the capital, a major political and strategic target for an invasion in its 19th day.

Two people died when artillery hit a nine-story apartment building in a northern district of the city, according to Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry. Using a ladder, a group of firefighters painstakingly carried an injured woman on a stretcher away from the blackened and still smoking building.

Rescuers work next to a residential building damaged by shelling in Kyiv
Rescuers work next to a residential building damaged by shelling, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, in this handout picture released March 14, 2022. 

Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine / Handout via Reuters


The Reuters news service reports that the Kyiv city administration says the Antonov aircraft plant there was shelled on Monday. Agence France-Presse says City Hall is saying two people were killed.

A town councilor for Brovary, east of Kyiv, was killed in fighting there, officials said.

Shells also fell on the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, which have seen some of the worst fighting in Russia’s stalled attempt to take the capital, regional administration chief Oleksiy Kuleba said on Ukrainian television.

AFP reports that A Kyiv negotiator says the fourth round of talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials began Monday.

They were expected to focus on getting food, water, medicine and other desperately needed supplies to cities and towns under fire, among other issues, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said.

The surrounded southern city of Mariupol, where the war has produced some of the greatest human suffering, remains cut off despite earlier talks on creating aid or evacuation convoys.

It will be a “hard discussion,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter. “Although Russia realizes the nonsense of its aggressive actions, it still has a delusion that 19 days of violence against (Ukrainian) peaceful cities is the right strategy.”

Meanwhile in Beijing, China’s foreign ministry Monday dismissed as “disinformation” U.S. assertions that Russia had asked China for military equipment for its Ukraine operations, Reuters says. 

The hope for a breakthrough came the day after Russian missiles pounded a military training base in western Ukraine that previously served as a crucial hub for cooperation between Ukraine and NATO.

Meanwhile in Beijing, China’s foreign ministry Monday dismissed as “disinformation” U.S. assertions that Russia had asked China for military equipment for its Ukraine operations, Reuters says. 

The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Monday morning that Russian troops haven’t made major advances over the past 24 hours, despite expanding strikes to the west.
 
In one such attack, Russian missiles pounded a military base in western Ukraine Sunday, killing 35 people. The base has served as a crucial hub for cooperation between Ukraine and the NATO countries supporting its defense. It heightened the possibility that the alliance could be drawn into the fight. The attack was also heavy with symbolism in a conflict that has revived old Cold War rivalries and threatened to rewrite the current global security order.
 
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it a “black day” and again urged NATO leaders to establish a no-fly zone over the country, a plea that the West has said could escalate the war to a nuclear confrontation.

Rescuers work to get people out of residential building that was struck in Kyiv
Rescuers work to get people out of a residential building in Kyiv that was struck, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in this handout picture released March 14, 2022.

Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine / Handout via REUTERS


“If you do not close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall on your territory. NATO territory. On the homes of citizens of NATO countries,” Zelenskyy said, urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet with him directly, a request that has gone unanswered by the Kremlin.

A fourth round of talks is expected Monday between Ukrainian and Russian officials via video conference to discuss getting aid to cities and towns under fire, among other issues, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said.
 
The talks would involve the same higher-level officials who met earlier in Belarus, aimed at “assessing preliminary results” of talks so far, Podolyak said. Previous talks haven’t led to major breakthroughs or a solution for getting aid or evacuation convoys to the desperate, strategic city of Mariupol.
 
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is sending his national security adviser to Rome to meet with a Chinese official over worries that Beijing is amplifying Russian disinformation and may help Moscow evade Western economic sanctions.
 
The U.N. has recorded at least 596 civilian deaths, though it believes the true toll is much higher, and Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office said that at least 85 children are among them. Millions more people have fled their homes amid the largest land conflict in Europe since World War II.

Since their invasion more than two weeks ago, Russian forces have struggled in their advance across Ukraine, in the face of stiffer than expected resistance, bolstered by Western weapons support. Instead, Russian forces have besieged several cities and pummeled them with strikes, hitting two dozen medical facilities and creating a series of humanitarian crises.
 
That fight expanded Sunday to the sprawling facility at Yavoriv, which has long been used to train Ukrainian soldiers, often with instructors from the United States and other countries in the Western alliance. More than 30 Russian cruise missiles targeted the site. In addition to the fatalities, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said 134 people were wounded in the attack.
 
The base is less than 15 miles from the Polish border and appears to be the westernmost target struck during Russia’s 18-day invasion. It has hosted NATO training drills, making it a potent symbol of Russia’s longstanding fears that the expansion of the 30-member Western military alliance to include former Soviet states threatens its security – something NATO denies. Still, the perceived threat from NATO is central to Moscow’s justifications for the war, and it has demanded Ukraine drop its ambitions to join the alliance.
 
Russian fighters also fired at the airport in the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk, which is less than 94 miles north of Romania and 155 miles from Hungary, two other NATO allies.
 
NATO said Sunday that it currently doesn’t have any personnel in Ukraine, though the United States has increased the number of U.S. troops deployed to Poland. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the West would respond if Russia’s strikes travel outside Ukraine and hit any NATO members, even accidentally.
 
Ukrainian and European leaders have pushed with limited success for Russia to grant safe passage to civilians trapped by fighting. Ukrainian authorities said Sunday that more than 10 humanitarian corridors were set to open, including from the besieged port city of Mariupol. But such promises have repeatedly crumbled, and there was no word late Sunday on whether people were able to use the evacuation routes.
 
The International Committee of the Red Cross said the suffering in Mariupol was “simply immense” and that hundreds of thousands of people faced extreme shortages of food, water and medicine.
 
“Dead bodies, of civilians and combatants, remain trapped under the rubble or lying in the open where they fell,” the Red Cross said in a statement. “Life-changing injuries and chronic, debilitating conditions cannot be treated.”
 
The fight for Mariupol is crucial because its capture could help Russia establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.