KYIV – Russia and Ukraine will discuss a ceasefire in a second round of talks on March 3, Moscow’s chief negotiator says as Russian military forces resume their assault on Ukrainian cities .
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Vladimir Medinsky, who is an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on March 2 that in addition to a ceasefire, the issue of a humanitarian corridor in Ukraine, where Russian armed forces continue to attack towns and villages, will also be discussed.
The Ukrainian presidency confirmed that its delegation was “on its way” to the venue of the talks after Medinsky said the Ukrainian delegation had already left Kyiv. The talks are to take place in the Brest region in western Belarus.
Plans to hold another round of talks came as the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution demanding that Russia stop its aggression and withdraw all its troops from Ukraine.
The non-binding resolution, which “deplores” “Russian aggression against Ukraine”, was supported by 141 of the 193 members of the assembly. Thirty-five members, including China, abstained and five countries, including Russia, Syria and Belarus, voted against the resolution.
Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defense on March 2 gave its first loss estimates since the launch of the unprovoked invasion. He said 498 of his soldiers have died since the war started last week.
Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov also said in a video statement posted on Twitter that 1,597 other Russian soldiers had been injured since February 24.
The figures could not be independently verified and there was no immediate comment from Ukraine, which said the number of Russian casualties was close to 6,000.
According to figures released by the Ukrainian General Staff on March 2, Russia had also lost 30 planes, 31 helicopters and 211 tanks. Updated figures for Ukrainian troop losses have not been released, although Ukraine recently placed the number in the hundreds.
WATCH: Residents of Melitopol, a town in southern Ukraine, gathered to protest the arrival of Russian troops on March 2 as Moscow continues its military invasion for the seventh day.
Russian forces continue to shell Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities, but the Ukrainian armed forces say that in some parts of the country the tide has turned and its forces have gone on the offensive for the first time.
As the war entered its seventh day on March 2, no major Ukrainian city had fallen, although experts warned that Moscow appeared to be looking to devastating bombings of built-up areas before entering.
But the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff announced that in some areas Ukrainian troops are “beginning to seize the initiative from the Russian occupiers”.
“The enemy is trying to maintain the combat capability of its units, realizing that the ‘easy march’ has not worked,” the general staff said. noted in a report. “He tries to avoid direct encounters not only with the Ukrainian army, but also with the civilians who block the movement of his columns. Russian propaganda ceases to operate in Ukraine and the ‘liberators’ realize that nobody was ready to welcome them here.”
The UN human rights office said it had recorded 136 civilian deaths and more than 870,000 people are believed to have fled Ukraine, according to the UN refugee agency. Ukraine’s state emergency service said more than 2,000 civilians died in the first week of the war. This figure has not been independently confirmed.
In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Russian troops had surrounded the Ukrainian capital and planned to strangle it with a blockade.
Klitschko told Current Time on March 2 that Ukrainian troops continue to disrupt such attempts by Russian troops and have found sabotage groups operating in Kiev.
“Right now, our guys are giving them an appropriate response. Even groups that reach the outskirts of Kyiv are being pushed back several kilometers,” he said, adding that “we will do everything we can” to break any blockade.
The Ukrainian army controls the city of Makariv in the Kiev region, noted Valeriy Zaluzhniy, commander of the armed forces.
The target of the heaviest Russian bombardment appeared to be the northeastern city of Kharkiv, whose city center was the target of missile fire.
Regional Governor Oleh Synyehubov said on the morning of March 2 that at least 21 people had been killed and 112 injured due to shelling over the past 24 hours.
On March 2, regional officials reported that the Kharkiv city council was hit by a missile, a day after the city’s administrative building was hit in an attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called the attack a “war crime” and, in a new video released on March 2, said Russian forces wanted to “erase our country, erase us all”.
WATCH: Rescue operations were underway on March 2 in Irpin, near the Ukrainian capital, after an attack blamed on Russian forces hit a residential area:
Synyehubov said nighttime airstrikes caused several fires but Ukrainian forces continued to hold the town.
“All attacks were repelled. The Russian enemy suffered heavy losses,” Synyehubov was quoted as saying by dpa.
Reports from Kharkiv said Russian airborne troops landed in the city on March 2 and Russian forces attacked a military medical center. Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said apartment buildings had been damaged by shelling and the regional headquarters of the National Police and Karazin National University were targeted.
“There is nowhere in Kharkiv where the shells have not yet struck,” Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said.
WATCH: Russian soldiers were seen looting grocery stores and banks in several Ukrainian towns. Security camera footage posted on social media showed Russian soldiers seizing food and trying to steal a safe.
The status of Kherson, a strategically important Black Sea port city of around 280,000 people, has been disputed.
In televised remarks on March 2, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that “Russian divisions of the armed forces have taken full control of the Kherson regional center”.
However, an adviser to Zelenskiy disputed that claim, saying street fighting continued at noon on March 2. “The city did not fall. Our side continues to defend itself,” said Oleksiy Arestovych. noted in a presidential briefing broadcast live.
WATCH: A Ukrainian was filmed taking back Ukrainian flags that had been confiscated by Russian troops in the southern city of Kherson on March 2, then waving them in front of a row of Russian tanks parked in the central square.
Early on March 2, the mayor of Mariupol said the Sea of Azov port city had come under heavy shelling and authorities had been unable to evacuate the injured. The town is a key target of joint Russian and separatist forces from the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
City Council noted much of Mariupol was without water and electricity following heavy shelling.
Russian forces also continue to mass outside the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, where Russian missiles struck the city’s television tower near a Holocaust massacre site on March 2:
At least five people were killed in this attack and further explosions were reported later that evening in and around Kyiv. A massive convoy of artillery and armored vehicles that had stretched more than 65 kilometers continues to position itself within striking distance of the capital in what Ukrainian officials see as an attempt to encircle and take control of the largest city in the country.
Zelenskiy expressed outrage Twitter that the Russian missile strike on the TV tower struck so close to the Babyn Yar memorial center, which was dedicated last year to mark the 80th anniversary of the infamous massacre of Jews, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and others by the Nazis during World War II.
Shortly after the reports of the attacks, Zelenskiy spoke by telephone with US President Joe Biden.
“US leadership on anti-Russian sanctions and defense assistance to Ukraine has been discussed. We must stop the aggressor as soon as possible. Thank you for your support!” Zelenskiy said on Twitter.
A White House official said the two leaders spoke for about 30 minutes.
During his first State of the Union address, delivered in Washington on March 1, Biden spoke at length about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Six days ago, Russian Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world, thinking he might bend it to his menacing ways,” Biden said. “But he miscalculated. He thought he could roll in Ukraine and the world would turn upside down. Instead, he encountered a wall of force he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people. “
In an interview with Reuters and CNN on March 1, Zelenskiy said Russia had to “first stop bombing people” before peace talks could move forward.
WATCH: There were emotional farewells at Kyiv’s main train station as more and more people fled the Ukrainian capital.
Emergency services reported that at least 10 people were killed in the attack, which came after dozens were killed by Russian shelling a day earlier. Moscow has repeatedly asserted that it was not targeting civilian areas in what it calls its “military operation” in Ukraine.
On February 28, the prosecutor’s office of the ICC, the world criminal court, announced that it was opening an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine both before last week’s invasion by Russia, which in 2014 illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, and since the start of the current invasion on February 24.
The court has already conducted a preliminary investigation into crimes related to the violent crackdown on pro-EU protests in Kyiv in 2013-2014, as well as alleged crimes in Crimea following its annexation by Russia.
On March 1, Canada asked the ICC to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
“We are working with other ICC member states to take this important step following numerous allegations of serious international crimes committed in Ukraine by Russian forces,” Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said in a statement. a statement. “The ICC has our full support and confidence. We call on Russia to cooperate with the Court.”