Zelensky says peace talks “more realistic” as Russian forces bombard Kyiv


Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday peace talks were beginning to “sound more realistic” — as the Ukrainian president, along with US and UK officials, reported Putin’s offensive was stalling even as attacks on Kyiv and Mariupol were intensifying.

What they’re saying: “Efforts are still needed, patience is needed,” Zelensky said during a televised address as the invasion entered a third week.

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  • “Any war ends with an agreement,” added Zelensky, who thanked President Biden “and all the friends of Ukraine” in the US for a $13.6 billion aid package ahead of his congressional address Wednesday.

  • Ukrainian presidential aid Mykhailo Podolyak, a member of the peace talks delegation, tweeted that “fundamental contradictions” remained as peace talks with Russian officials were expected to continue Wednesday. “But there is certainly room for compromise,” he added.

The big picture: Loud explosions were reported in Kyiv on Wednesday morning. Kyiv entered a 35-hour curfew on Tuesday night, hours after at least four people were killed in a Russian attack on an apartment in Ukraine’s capital.

  • Fresh attacks were also reported in Mariupol, where local officials said Russian forces had seized a hospital and took some 500 people hostage.

  • But Zelensky said during his address that despite Russia’s military bombardment, its forces had failed to break through.

Situation report: US and British officials also reported that Russian forces had stalled across Ukraine.

  • A US Defense official told AP that Russian forces were about nine miles outside Kyiv and their long-range missiles were striking civilian targets in Kyiv “with increasing frequency.” But President Vladimir Putin’s ground forces were “making little to no progress around the country.”

Meanwhile, the US Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update Tuesday “Russia is seeking to generate additional troops to bolster and replace its personnel losses in Ukraine.

  • “As a result of these losses it is likely that Russia is struggling to conduct offensive operations in the face of sustained Ukrainian resistance. Continued personnel losses will also make it difficult for Russia to secure occupied territory,” the update added.

What to watch: “Russia is redeploying forces from as far afield as its Eastern Military District, Pacific Fleet and Armenia. It is also such seeking to exploit irregular sources as Private Military Companies, Syrian and other mercenaries,” according to the UK Defense Ministry.

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