Monday, February 28, 2022

Ukraine: Fighting Continues as Peace Talks End (VIDEO)

I'm not exactly sure what was to be expected of the negotiations, especially since Putin was simultaneously bombing the hell out of civilians spaces in Kharkiv.

I'll try to figure it out. 

Meanwhile, at the Los Angeles Times, "Fighting rages on in Ukraine as talks with Russia end without breakthrough":

KYIV, Ukraine — Russia and Ukraine came together Monday for a first round of talks that failed to ease Europe’s biggest ground war in 75 years as Russian missiles pounded Ukraine’s second largest city, troops pressed closer to the capital of Kyiv and more than half a million Ukrainians fled the country.

International efforts to punish and isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin intensified and took aim at his country’s most important finances, while even traditionally neutral Switzerland joined the growing coalition of nations imposing a raft of sanctions on Putin and associates, demanding Russia withdraw its troops immediately.

But Putin seemed to remain impervious to the pressure and insisted Russia was not targeting civilians in its attacks despite abundant evidence to the contrary. Rather than back down, Putin may be driven to increasingly brutal tactics, several experts warned.

With great skepticism, President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to the Monday negotiations, despite seeing “small chance to end the war,” and said the fate of his country as an independent nation had now entered a “crucial period.”

Delegations from Ukraine and Russia met for about five hours at a site near Ukraine’s border with Russian ally Belarus, and they agreed to hold another round of talks. But diplomats portrayed a wide chasm nowhere near resolution: Ukraine is demanding a cease-fire and withdrawal of Russian troops, while Russia wants a “demilitarization” of Ukraine and pledge of neutrality, meaning it must step away from the West.

In Kyiv, a two-day-long curfew was lifted Monday to allow residents to venture out cautiously to replenish supplies, get some fresh air and survey the state of their city of 3 million people. Many lined up for hours outside gas stations and supermarkets, mostly ignoring the occasional wail of air-raid sirens.

Fighting continued on the outskirts of the capital, with satellite images showing Russian troops mostly massed about 15 to 19 miles north of the city, according to U.S. and British defense officials. No major population centers have yet fallen to Russian forces, which has raised fears that Putin will soon order an all-out blitz to overrun Ukraine, depose its government and turn it into a vassal state.

“They have been slowed and they have been frustrated by their lack of progress on Kyiv, and one of the things that could result is a reevaluation of their tactics, and the potential for them to be more aggressive and more overt in both the size and scale of their targeting of Kyiv,” a senior U.S. Pentagon official said.

Zelensky once again called on his compatriots to defend their land.

“When I planned to become a president, I said that each of us is the president, because we are all responsible for our state, for our beautiful Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a video address Monday, the latest in a series of public messages that has buoyed and drawn the admiration of many of his people. “Now it has happened that each of us is a warrior. ... And I am confident that each of us will win.”

But more than half a million Ukrainians have now fled their war-torn country, said Filippo Grandi, the head of the United Nations’ refugee agency. At last count, about 281,000 people had entered Poland from Ukraine, more than 84,500 had escaped to Hungary and nearly 100,000 had arrived in Romania, Moldova and Slovakia, the agency said. The remainder had found their way to other countries.

There were signs of stress in Russia as well, with the heavy sanctions imposed by the U.S., Europe and other nations, including Japan and Australia, beginning to take a toll...

Still more.