This Tuesday morning, at least three strong explosions were heard by several journalists in central Kiev, one of which had seen a column of smoke rise in the distance. Explosions are sometimes caused by air defense weapons.
On the twentieth day of the war after the Russian invasion of February 24, the fourth negotiating session to find a solution to this crisis is to be resumed.
This time, the talks are taking place via videoconference after three face-to-face rounds in neighboring Belarus and then a meeting Thursday in Turkey of the heads of Russian and Ukrainian diplomacy.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday noted a new, “fundamentally different” approach to Moscow in negotiations.
During the night from Monday to Tuesday, he claimed via a video on his Facebook page that the Russians “have already begun to understand that they will achieve nothing with war”.
For his part, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke of “progress” on Friday, as the Russian army stepped up its operations on Ukrainian soil, including in regions so far spared.
“The enemy continues its offensive against our state. […] The occupying forces continue to attack infrastructure and civilian areas,” the Ukrainian army staff said. The Kremlin on Monday put forward “the possibility of taking (the) major cities already surrounded under total control”.
For example, the fighting has intensified in recent days around Kiev, which is almost completely surrounded. More than half of the three million inhabitants have fled.
Mariupol, a problem
“The enemy plans to reinforce the regrouping of (its) troops” […] in the direction of Kharkov, Ukraine’s second city, the staff of the Ukrainian army added and specified that the Russian army also tried to “conquer Maryupol”.
“Ukrainian soldiers have managed to repel the invaders” from this strategic southeast port city under siege by the Russian army, he said. According to him, in its offensive, the Russian side lost about 150 soldiers, two tanks, seven infantry fighting vehicles and “hit a retreat”.
A humanitarian aid convoy, which has been trying to reach the city for days, was again blocked on Monday by Russian soldiers in Berdyansk, 85 km from Mariupol, according to Ukrainian authorities.
About 400,000 residents of Mariupol live locked up in cellars, deprived of water, electricity, heat and food. According to the municipality, more than 2,187 civilians have died there since February 24.
More than 2.8 million people have fled Ukraine since the invasion began, according to a count released Monday by the UN that also lists about 2 million internally displaced persons.
In addition to continuing the talks, Tuesday should also see the entry into force of the fourth package of sanctions decided on Monday afternoon in Brussels by the ambassadors of the 27 Member States of the European Union. They should be published in the Official Journal of the European Union on Tuesday so that they become immediately applicable.
The previous ones already target 862 people and 53 Russian entities. Appearing on this blacklist results in a ban on entering EU land and makes it possible to seize assets.
Previous international sanctions have already frozen some $300 billion in Russian reserves abroad. Russia accused the West on Monday of trying to provoke an artificial default through sanctions that freeze Moscow’s assets abroad.
The Kremlin could struggle to meet several payment terms for foreign currency debt in March-April, evoking memories of the humiliating default of 1998.
The light wind of optimism surrounding the talks caused the oil price to retreat on Monday, as the barrel WTI – benchmark in the United States – ended at $103.01 after surpassing $130 last week.
And it fell more than 5% on Tuesday to $97.13, this time amid concerns about a slowing Chinese economy due to drastic measures announced by Beijing in the face of an increase in Covid-19 cases in the country. country.
Residential areas hit by gunfire in Kiev
According to emergency services, a fire struck at least two residential areas in Kiev on Tuesday morning, injuring one person, as fighting intensified around the Ukrainian capital as the Russian army tried to surround it. Ukrainian emergency services reported on Facebook that a strike hit a nine-storey building in the northwest of the Ukrainian capital, in the Podil district.
These shots started a fire that was quickly extinguished by the fire brigade. One person has been treated and hospitalized, the relief said, which did not specify what type of ammunition was used. The explosion shattered all windows of the building and those nearby. In the early morning several people threw debris from the windows of the destroyed apartments of the building.
In a separate statement, Ukrainian emergency services said a gunshot had started the fire at a house in the Ossokorky neighborhood of southeastern Kiev. According to this source, there were no casualties in this strike.
Kiev City Hall has imposed a 36-hour curfew in the Ukrainian capital from Tuesday evening, which is experiencing a “dangerous and difficult moment,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced.
Traffic in the city will be banned “from today” at 8pm (6pm GMT) and until 7am (5am GMT) on Thursday, the former world boxing champion announced on Telegram after Kiev was bombed repeatedly on Tuesday morning.
Dnipro airport bombed
The airport of the city of Dnipro – which is of strategic importance to the Russians – in eastern Ukraine has suffered “mass destruction” after two Russian bombings on the night from Monday to Tuesday, regional authorities said.