Talks to resume as Russia pressures Ukrainian capital Kyiv

A new round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials raised hopes that progress would be made in evacuating civilians from besieged Ukrainian cities and getting emergency supplies to areas without enough food, water and medicine.

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LVIV, Ukraine: Russia’s military forces kept up their punishing campaign to capture Ukraine’s capital with fighting and artillery fire in Kyiv’s suburbs Monday after an airstrike on a military base near the Polish border brought the war dangerously close to NATO’s doorstep.

A new round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials raised hopes that progress would be made in evacuating civilians from besieged Ukrainian cities and getting emergency supplies to areas without enough food, water and medicine.

Air raid alerts sounded in cities and towns all around the country overnight, from near the Russian border in the east to the Carpathian Mountains in the west, as fighting continued on the outskirts of Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said Russian forces shelled several suburbs of the capital, a major political and strategic target for an invasion in its 19th day.

Ukrainian authorities said two people died and seven were injured after Russian forces struck an airplane factory in Kyiv, sparking a large fire. The Antonov factory is Ukraine’s largest aircraft manufacturing plant and is best known for producing many of the world’s biggest cargo planes.

Russian artillery fire also hit a nine-story apartment building in a northern district of the city, killing two more people, authorities said. Firefighters worked to rescue survivors, painstakingly carrying an injured woman on a stretcher away from the blackened and still smoking building.

A town councilor for Brovary, east of Kyiv, was killed in fighting there, officials said. Shells also fell on the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, which have seen some of the worst fighting in Russia’s stalled attempt to take the capital, regional administration chief Oleksiy Kuleba said on Ukrainian television.

The surrounded southern city of Mariupol, where the war has produced some of the greatest human suffering, remained cut off despite earlier talks on creating aid or evacuation convoys.

A pregnant woman who became a symbol of Ukraine’s suffering when she was photographed being carried from a bombed maternity hospital in Mariupol has died along with her baby, the Associated Press has learned. Images of the woman being rushed to an ambulance on a stretcher had circled the world, epitomizing the horror of an attack on humanity’s most innocent.

Ukraine announced plans for new humanitarian aid and evacuation corridors on Monday, although ongoing shelling caused similar efforts to fail in the last week.

A fourth round of high-level discussions between Ukrainian and Russian officials was set for Monday, the first negotiations in a week, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said. The talks were to take place by video conference. The previous rounds were held face-to-face in Belarus.

Monday’s meeting will be a “hard discussion,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter. “Although Russia realizes the nonsense of its aggressive actions, it still has a delusion that 19 days of violence against (Ukrainian) peaceful cities is the right strategy.”

The hope for a breakthrough came the day after Russian missiles pounded a military training base in western Ukraine that previously served as a crucial hub for cooperation between Ukraine and NATO.

The attack killed 35 people, Ukrainian officials said, and the base’s proximity to the borders of Poland and other NATO members raised concerns that the Western military alliance could be drawn into the the largest land conflict in Europe since World War II.

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