Live updates: Ukraine, Russia to continue talks Wednesday – The Denver Post

By The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine — A top Ukrainian negotiator says talks with Russia will continue Wednesday.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who spoke to Russian negotiators via video link on Monday and Tuesday, described the talks as “very difficult and viscous.”

He said that “there are fundamental contradictions,” but added that “there is certainly room for compromise.”

The talks via video link this week follow three round of negotiations in Belarus that have failed to produce any visible progress.

Both Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have voiced cautious optimism but haven’t spelled out any details of talks.

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HERE ARE TODAY’S KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Europe next week for face-to-face talks with European leaders about Russia’s invasion

— Russia has stepped up its bombardment of Kyiv, as a series of strikes hit a residential neighborhood in the capital city

— The European Union has imposed new sanctions, including measures that target Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich

— The leaders of three European Union countries have traveled to Kyiv

— Fox News says two of its journalists were killed in Ukraine when the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by incoming fire

Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for updates throughout the day.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:

KYIV, Ukraine — A senior Ukrainian official says about 20,000 people have managed to leave the besieged port city of Mariupol.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy head of office of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the evacuees left Mariupol in private vehicles via a humanitarian corridor on Tuesday.

He said that 570 of some 4,000 vehicles that left the city have reached the city of Zaporizhzhia some 260 kilometers (160 miles) northwest while others will spend the night in various towns along the way.

Mariupol, a strategic port city of 430,000 on the Sea of Azov, has been besieged by Russian troops for more than 10 days, facing heavy shelling that has killed more than 2,300 people and left residents struggling for food, water, heat and medicine.

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WASHINGTON — Russian ground troops have made limited progress over the last 24 hours in their effort to seize major cities in Ukraine, a senior defense official said Tuesday.

And as deadly airstrikes continue, the U.S. has seen indications that Russia may believe it needs more troops and supplies than it has on hand in the country, and is considering ways to get resources brought in, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. military assessments.

The official did not elaborate on the indications, and said that as of Tuesday, however, there has been no actual movement of reinforcement troops currently in Russia going into Ukraine.

According to the official, Russian ground forces are still about 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles) northwest of Kyiv and 20-30 kilometers (12-19 miles) east of the city, which is being increasingly hit by long-range strikes. The official said Ukrainian troops continue to put up stiff resistance in Kharkiv and other areas.

Russia has launched more than 950 missiles so far in the war, and both Russia and Ukraine still retain about 90% of their combat power, the official said.

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Associated Press Writer Lolita Bandor contributed to this report.

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MEDYKA, Poland — Refugees continued to pour into Poland on Tuesday at a border crossing connecting Ukraine to the Polish village of Medyka.

Ludmila Deslichenko, 41, traveled from Cherkasy in central Ukraine.

“We would like to go back home as soon as the war ends and when there’s peace,” Deslichenko said. “It was very terrifying. There were bombs during the day, also rockets, everywhere in Ukraine. There were a lot of explosions. As soon as it calms down and the war is over, we will go back.”

Oksana Voloshen, 59, said she crossed the border to buy groceries to bring back to Mostyska in far western Ukraine.

“We have nothing in the shops,” she said.

Nicolas Kusiak, who leads NGOs and volunteers at the Medyka border crossing, said that while they’re seeing mostly refugees entering Poland, some are headed the other way.

“We have a lot of military, ex-military from all over the world, the (United) States, U.K., Germany, Denmark, even Poland, joining the international legion,” Kusiak said.

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KYIV, Ukraine — A senior aide to Ukraine’s president says that Russia has softened its stance in the talks over a possible settlement.

Ihor Zhovkva, a deputy chief of staff to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Tuesday that the talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives have become “more constructive” and Russia has changed tone and stopped airing demands for Ukraine to surrender — something Russia had insisted upon during earlier stages of talks.

Three rounds of talks in Belarus earlier this month have been followed by video calls between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, including the one on Tuesday.

Zhovkva said that Ukrainian representatives feel “moderately optimistic” after the talks, adding that it would be necessary for Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet to make major progress.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s foreign minister is traveling to Moscow as part of efforts to secure a cease-fire.

Mevlut Cavusoglu would hold talks in Moscow on Wednesday before traveling to Ukraine for talks on Thursday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.

In a televised address following a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan also said the Polish President Andrzej Duda would be visiting Turkey on Wednesday for talks expected to focus on the crisis.

Last week the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers met on the sidelines of a diplomacy forum organized by Turkey, although their talks failed to produce a breakthrough.

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia’s Parliament has approved a NATO plan to deploy up to 2,100 troops on Slovak territory following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The plan is part of the NATO initiative to reassure member countries on the alliance’s eastern flank by sending forces to help protect them.

Germany is supposed to contribute the biggest number of soldiers, up to 700, to the multinational battlegroup. The Czech Republic follows with 600 and the U.S. will send up to 400. The Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia will also contribute troops.

Their deployment together with the Patriot air defense system will increase the defensive capabilities of Slovakia’s armed forces.

The alliance stationed troops in the Baltic countries — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — and Poland after the 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula by Russia. After Russia attacked Ukraine, NATO decided to boost its presence along the entire eastern flank by deploying forces in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

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MILAN — Italian museums said Tuesday that they had gotten a reprieve from a Russian request to immediately repatriate artworks on loan from the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg.

The director of the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg said in a message relayed Monday by the Hermitage Italia collection that an agreement had been reached with Russian cultural officials so that “the paintings of Titian and Picasso can continue to remain on the walls of museums,” at Palazzo Reale in Milan and the Fondazione Alda Fendi in Rome. The same goes for works on loan to the Gallerie d’Italia, owned by bank Intesa Sanpaolo, in Milan.

Russian cultural officials had requested the immediate repatriation of the works last week as cultural ties frayed along with the diplomatic tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Hermitage director general, Michail Piotrovsky, expressed regret “that cultural relations between our countries have collapsed into such ‘darkness.’ It can recover only if we conserve an atmosphere of good will and benevolence. We always repeat that the bridges of culture are the last to blow up. It is time to protect them.”

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BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says he’s convened a summit for next week of the military organization’s 30 leaders to discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Stoltenberg says the March 24 summit will be led by U.S. President Joe Biden and “will address the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, our strong support for Ukraine, and further strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defense in response to a new reality for our security.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that Biden will travel to Brussels for the face-to-face talks with European leaders.

The trip follows on Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to eastern flank NATO countries of Poland and Romania last week to discuss with leaders the growing refugee crisis in eastern Europe sparked by the Russian invasion and to underscore the Biden administration’s support for NATO allies.

Stoltenberg said in a statement Tuesday that “at this critical time, North America and Europe must continue to stand together in NATO.” NATO has been bolstering its eastern flank with troops and equipment to deter Russia from invading any of its members. NATO refuses to deploy troops to Ukraine as it is concerned about sparking a wider war in Europe.

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An employee of Russian state television who interrupted a live news program by protesting the war in Ukraine was ordered to pay a fine by a Russian court Tuesday.

Marina Ovsyannikova, an employee of the Russian Channel 1, walked into the studio during Monday’s evening news show with a poster saying “no war” and “Russians against the war.”

In a video recorded before her action, Ovsyannikova said that her father is Ukrainian and her mother Russian. She urged Russians to join anti-war protests and said that “Russia is the aggressor country and one person, Vlaidmir Putin, solely bears responsibility for that aggression.”

Ovsyannikova spent the night in police custody, and Moscow’s Ostankino District Court on Tuesday ordered Ovsyannikova to pay a fine of 30,000 rubles (about $270) on charges of organizing unsanctioned actions for her call to take part in demonstrations against the war.

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BRUSSELS — The European Union has slapped sanctions on Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich as part of a new package of measures targeting Russia.

The EU included the Russian oligarch in its updated list of individuals facing assets freeze and travel bans over their role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The 55-year-old Abramovich had already been punished in Britain by Boris Johnson’s administration last week. The aluminum magnate was among seven wealthy Russians who had their assets frozen under British sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Abramovich has also been suspended as director of the Premier League club.

The EU said Abramovich “has had privileged access to the president, and has maintained very good relations with him. This connection with the Russian leader helped him to maintain his considerable wealth.”

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The Russian Foreign Ministry says Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, Defense Minister Anita Anand and other Canadian officials have been put on a sanctions list.

The ministry said in Tuesday’s statement that they have been barred from entering Russia in retaliation to Canadian sanctions against the Russian leadership. The Russian sanctions also targeted Canadian lawmakers.

The ministry said the decision was a forced move taken in response to “hostile actions by the current Canadian regime that has long tested our patience.” The decision followed the announcement of Russian sanctions against U.S. President Joe Biden and senior members of his administration.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow is withdrawing from the Council of Europe.

The ministry said it handed a formal notice about Russia’s decision to leave the continent’s leading human rights organization to the Council of Europe’s Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić on Tuesday.

It said the move followed the Council of Europe’s decision to suspend Russia’s membership that was taken on Feb. 25.

The ministry charged that the Council of Europe has become an instrument of exerting pressure on Russia and alleged that it has been heavily influenced by NATO and the European Union. It said in a statement that its withdrawal from the Council of Europe wouldn’t impact human rights and freedoms in the country, which officials said are safeguarded by the Russian constitution.

Russia’s invasion has sparked widespread allegations of war crimes, as hundreds of Ukrainian civilians have been killed and numerous residential areas have been targeted by Russian troops.

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The Kremlin says that President Vladimir Putin has discussed the situation in Ukraine with European Council President Charles Michel.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin informed Michel about the Russian view of the talks with Ukraine in Tuesday’s call, adding that Ukrainian officials haven’t yet “demonstrated a serious intention to search for mutually acceptable solutions.”

Michel said on Twitter that he told Putin about the “urgent need to stop Russia’s fratricidal war against Ukraine” and emphasized that “indiscriminate shelling by Russian forces of Ukraine civilians must stop.” He added that “Russia must urgently enable humanitarian access and safe passage.

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WARSAW — During a news conference with foreign journalists on Monday in Warsaw, Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said that while solidarity for Ukrainian refugees remains strong, steps must be taken to avoid a backlash.

More than 1.8 million refugees have fled to Poland. Around 390,000 people have traveled to Warsaw, where 300,000 displaced Ukrainians remain. Warsaw has become a major transfer point for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion. Its central train station has become a hub for people awaiting transport further West.

“I need to take care of the normal functioning of the city, because the more problems we have, the more our attention is diverted to other issues for longer, then we will start having problems in schools and hospitals and elsewhere,” he told reporters.

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Another flight from Belgrade to Moscow has received a bomb threat that turned out to be false, Serbia’s police said Tuesday.

Unlike two other threats since Friday, this time it came before the plane took off. On Friday and Monday, the aircraft had to turn back shortly after takeoff for inspection.

The police said Tuesday they are investigating the third false claim in five days.

Serbian state media say the threatening emails came from Ukraine.

Besides Turkish carriers, Serbia’s national airline AirSerbia is the only airline in Europe still flying to and from Russia.

Serbia, which formally seeks European Union membership but has maintained close relations with ally Russia, has refused to join an international flight ban against Moscow in response to the war in Ukraine.

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UNITED NATIONS — Russia has circulated a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution demanding protection for civilians “in vulnerable situations” in Ukraine and safe passage for humanitarian aid and people seeking to leave the country — but it makes no mention of Russia’s responsibility for the war against its smaller neighbor.

The draft resolution released Tuesday expresses “grave concern” at the deteriorating humanitarian situation and reports of civilian casualties in and around Ukraine. It endorses U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for dialogue and negotiations and calls for a negotiated cease-fire to rapidly evacuate “all civilians,” and underscores “the need for the parties concerned to agree on humanitarian pauses to this end.”

The draft, which never identifies “the parties concerned,” could be put to a vote as early as Wednesday, according to a Russian diplomat who was not authorized to speak publicly because discussions have been private.

The Russian measure was circulated a day after France and Mexico announced that a humanitarian resolution on Ukraine they co-sponsored, which had been discussed for two weeks in the Security Council, was being moved to the 193-member General Assembly for discussion and a vote.

That draft resolution called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and deplored the dire humanitarian consequences of the hostilities in Ukraine, provisions which are not in the proposed Russian resolution. The France-Mexico resolution would almost certainly have led to a Russian veto in the Security Council, but there are no vetoes in the General Assembly.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters that his country is prepared to support a humanitarian resolution and after Monday’s announcement by the French and Mexican ambassadors Russia thinks “the chances are still there,” so he was putting forward its “roadmap” and will see whether the council adopts it.

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Associated Press Writer Edith Lederer contributed to this report.

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TORONTO — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked Canadians to imagine bombs landing in their communities as he told the Canadian Parliament that his people want to live.

Zelenskyy urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian lawmakers to help enact a no-fly zone over the Ukraine and called for greater economic pressure on Russia.

“Justin, can you imagine you and your children hearing all these severe explosions, the bombing of the airport, the bombing of the Ottawa airport,” Zelenskyy said. “Cruise missiles are falling down and your children are asking you, ‘What happened?’”

Speaking by video from Ukraine to a packed Canadian House of Commons chamber, Zelenskyy said the Russian war is designed to annihilate Ukraine and subjugate its people.

Zelenskyy evoked British wartime leader Winston Churchill as he told the U.K. Parliament last week that his country would fight Russia’s invasion to the end. Zelenskyy will also speak Wednesday to members of the U.S. House and Senate, an event that will be livestreamed for the public.

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MYKOLAIV, Ukraine — In Mykolaiv, a southern Ukraine city bordering the Black Sea, walls of sandbags with mannequins for decoys are placed at checkpoints. A high sandbag wall protects the front of a building serving as a support center for the military.

Rodyin Lavrushin is a volunteer at the center. He lifted a tarp covering plastic crates filled with Molotov cocktails.

“Here we collect everything from food to clothes and military specifics and help our military because the Russian occupiers came here to our home and we will protect it to the end.” Lavrushin said Monday.

Mykolaiv resident Svetlana Gryshchenko said her son was killed Feb. 26 in the Donetsk region.

“He went there to the military command,” Gryshchenko said. “He was a soldier and he’d just turned 24. He went there to work (with the military), not to fight.”

“What is happening now in Mykolaiv cannot be described through words,” Gryshchenko said. “We are bombed during the day and during the night. We are peaceful citizens, and I cannot put it into words. It is impossible to put into words. It’s a nightmare what Russia is doing on the territory of Ukraine.”

Outside the Mykolaiv city morgue, bodies placed in plastic bags lie on the ground because the building had no room for more of the dead.

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NEW YORK — Fox News says one of its video journalists was killed in Ukraine when the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by incoming fire.

The network said Tuesday that videographer Pierre Zakrzewski was killed in an incident that also injured reporter Benjamin Hall, who remains hospitalized. Their injuries occurred Monday in Horenka, outside of Kyiv.

Zakrzewski was a veteran journalists who had covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria for Fox. Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media, said in a memo to staff members on Tuesday that “his passion and talent as a journalist were unmatched.”

He won an internal award at Fox for helping to get freelancers and their families out of Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal last year.

He was the second journalist killed in Ukraine in two days, following the death of documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud.

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BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the 30-nation military alliance is set to radically change its security posture in Europe in the future in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and its military integration with Belarus, create a new security reality on the European continent,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday, on the eve of a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

“We need to reset our military posture for this new reality,” he told reporters. Stoltenberg said the ministers, led by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, would discuss possible changes on Wednesday.

“On land, this could include substantially more forces in the eastern part of the alliance, at higher readiness, and with more prepositioned equipment,” Stoltenberg said.

In recent years, NATO has deployed a relatively small force of around 5,000 troops to the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – and Poland on a rotating basis to deter Russia from invading.

Stoltenberg says he expects the ministers will task NATO military commanders to come up with options for boosting security in eastern Europe for the alliance’s leaders to choose among at their June summit.

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