The aftermath of artillery shelling by Russia is seen on a residential area, in Mariupol The aftermath of artillery shelling by Russia is seen on a residential area, in Mariupol 

Ukraine: failure of top level talks between parties

The top diplomats of Ukraine and Russia met in Turkey on Thursday for face-to-face talks but no progress was made. As the war in Ukraine entered its third week, this was the first high-level contact between the parties since the Russian invasion began.

By Linda Bordoni

At a news briefing after the talks in the Turkish city of Antalya, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov refused to promise to to halt firing so aid could reach civilians and allow for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people trapped in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

At his own simultaneous news conference in a separate room, Lavrov showed no sign of making any concessions, saying the operation was going to plan and repeating Russian demands that Ukraine be disarmed and accept neutral status.

Mariupol under siege

Aid agencies say humanitarian help is most urgently needed in Mariupol, where 400,000 people have been trapped for more than a week with no food, water or power. The port reportedly came under fresh airstrikes on Thursday morning, a day after Moscow bombed a maternity hospital there.

Ukraine said a convoy trying to reach the city had again been turned back by Russian fire, blocking the delivery of aid. Daily attempts at a local humanitarian ceasefire have failed since Saturday.

Meanwhile, Moscow's stated objectives of crushing Ukraine's military and removing its leaders have remained out of reach.

Putin’s forces have advanced in the south but have yet to capture key cities in the north or east.

Humanitarian tragedy

Half of the more than 2 million refugees who have fled Ukraine are children. The International Committee of the Red Cross said houses had been destroyed all across Ukraine, and hundreds of thousands of people have no food, no water, no heat, no electricity and no medical care.

The total number of people killed in Ukraine so far is impossible to confirm, but the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights verified a total of 516 civilian deaths, of whom 37 are children. It is also estimated the number of Russian troops that have died could be close to 3000. (Source Reuters)

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10 March 2022, 15:38