Ukraine quarrels with Russia over talks, says Moscow fails in East

  • Ukraine says Russia’s ‘murder playbook’ endangers talks
  • Russia says scrapping sanctions key to peace talks
  • Russia prepares for new offensives in the East, says Ukraine

KYIV, April 30 (Reuters) – Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations over shaky talks to end a war now in its third month as Russia shells areas in the east of the country and US lawmakers have promised a massive new arms package for kyiv.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in remarks published early on Saturday, said lifting Western sanctions against Russia was part of peace talks, which he described as ‘difficult’ but which are continuing daily via liaison video.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Polish reporters there was a “great chance” that the talks, which have not been held in person for a month, will end because of Russia’s “manual on killing people,” the Interfax news agency said.

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Ukraine accuses Russian troops of atrocities in areas near the capital, kyiv, which they had occupied. Moscow denies the allegations.

After failing to capture the capital in the nine-week assault that reduced cities to rubble, killed thousands and forced 5 million Ukrainians to flee abroad, Moscow is now focusing on the east and the south.

Russian forces captured the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine and mainly occupied the southeastern port city of Mariupol, where the United Nations is working to evacuate civilians and entrenched fighters in a large steelworks.

Lavrov told China’s official Xinhua news agency that 1.02 million people had been evacuated to Russia from Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24. Ukraine says thousands of people have been taken to Russia against their will. Read more

Reuters could not independently verify the claims of either party.

Lavrov said the evacuees included 120,000 foreigners and people from Russia-backed breakaway regions of Ukraine – the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics which Russia recognized as independent just before President Vladimir Putin announces the invasion.

Moscow calls the war a “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine, defend Russian speakers from persecution and prevent the United States from using the country to threaten Russia.

Ukraine rejects Putin’s persecution claims and says it is fighting an unprovoked land grab to fully take over Donetsk and Luhansk, which form the Donbass region.

Britain and the United States have expressed support for Ukraine in the peace talks, but say it is vital to continue to arm kyiv. On Thursday, President Joe Biden asked the US Congress for $33 billion in new aid, including more than $20 billion in weapons.

The funding received bipartisan support from Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hoped to pass the package “as soon as possible”. Read more

Ukraine acknowledges losing control of some towns and villages in the east, but says Moscow’s gains have cost a force already depleted by its defeat near the capital.

“We have serious losses, but the Russians’ losses are much, much greater,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said, without giving further details. “They have colossal losses.”

Russia was pounding the entire Donetsk frontline with rockets, artillery, mortar shells and aircraft, in part to prevent Ukrainian troops from regrouping, Ukrainian officials said.

The Ukrainian army said that Russia was preparing for offensives in the regions of Lyman in Donetsk and Sievierodonetsk and Popasna in Luhansk. In the south, he added, Russia “continues to regroup, increase the effectiveness of fire and improve its position.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces struck Ukrainian weapons storage sites, platoon strongholds, artillery positions and drones. Russia said a diesel submarine in the Black Sea struck military targets with Kalibr cruise missiles, the first report of such strikes from a submarine.

Russia said its high-precision long-range missiles destroyed production facilities at a rocket factory in kyiv.

Ukraine says Thursday’s attack hit a residential building, injuring civilians and killing a producer for US-backed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The body of producer Vira Hyrych was found in the rubble of the building, the broadcaster said.

Western officials said Russia suffered fewer casualties after reducing the scale of its invasion, but the numbers were still “quite high”.

On Saturday, the British Ministry of Defense said: “Gaps remain in Russian tactical coordination”. Russia has been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units following failed advances in northeastern Ukraine, it said in a daily bulletin. Read more

The bloodiest fighting and the worst humanitarian disaster took place in Mariupol, reduced to a desert state by two months of Russian bombardment and siege. Ukraine says 100,000 civilians remain in the city.

In parts of Mariupol now held by Russian troops, rescuers were recovering bodies from the streets. Those who remained among the cursed ruins remembered their fear.

“We were hungry, the child was crying, when the Grad (multiple rocket launcher) shells hit near the house,” Viktoria Nikolayeva, 54, who survived the battle with her family in an undercover, told Reuters. -floor.

“We thought, this is it, the end.” Read more

A Ukrainian fighter expressed optimism that injured and other soldiers would be rescued from the factory, although previous evacuation efforts had failed. Read more

“I really believe that all the defenders of Mariupol – the troops who remained here, the wounded and the living – that we can save the lives of these heroes,” captain Sviatoslav Palamar said.

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Reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kyiv; Additional reporting from Russian-controlled Mariupol and Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Written by Rami Ayyub and Clarence Fernandez; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and William Mallard

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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