Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – The first round of talks aimed at ending fighting between Ukraine and Russia ended on Monday without an agreement except to continue talks, while increasingly isolated Moscow has encountered unexpectedly fierce resistance on the ground and economic chaos. yourself at home.

Five days after the Russian invasion, the Kremlin has resurrected the specter of nuclear war, while Ukraine, which is in battle, has begun to strengthen its ties with the West by applying to join the European Union, largely a symbolic move unlikely to suit the president. Russia to Vladimir Putin, who has long accused the United States of trying to pull Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit.

Putin’s top aide and head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, said the talks lasted almost five hours and that the envoys “found certain points on which common positions could be foreseen.” He said they agreed to continue talks in the coming days.

When the talks ended, several explosions could be heard in Kyiv, although several details became known at once. Russian troops attacking Ukraine on several fronts are slowly advancing on the capital with nearly 3 million people.

On Monday, the 17-mile (25-kilometer) column, consisting of hundreds of armored vehicles, tanks, artillery and support vehicles, was just 17 miles (25 kilometers) from the center of Kiev, according to satellite images from Maxar.

The pictures also show signs of fighting near Kiev, including destroyed cars and damaged the bridge.

Notices aimed at advancing Russian soldiers appeared on billboards, bus stops and electronic signs throughout the capital. Some used obscene language to encourage Russians to leave. Others appealed to their humanity.

“Russian soldier – Stop! Remember your family. Go home with a clear conscience, ”one read.

In the resort town of Berdyansk on the shores of the Sea of ​​Azov, residents described soldiers who captured their city on Sunday as exhausted young recruits.

“Frightened children, frightened looks. They want to eat, ”Kanstantsin Malaletka, who runs a small shop, said by phone.

Soldiers went to the supermarket and grabbed canned meat, vodka and cigarettes. “They ate right in the store,” he said. “It looked like they hadn’t been fed in the last few days.”

Meanwhile, a video on social media from Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, shows that residential neighborhoods are being shelled and apartment buildings are shaken by repeated powerful explosions. Kharkiv authorities said at least seven people were killed and dozens injured. They warned that the casualties could be much greater.

“They wanted to hold a blitzkrieg, but it didn’t work out, so they are doing so,” said 83-year-old Valiantsin Petrovich, using only his name and patronymic in Russian, fearing for his safety. He said he watched the shelling from his downtown apartment.

Russian military denies shelling of residential areas, despite ample evidence of shelling of homes, schools and hospitals

As the invasion dragged on slower than many in the West expected, and Ukrainians who surpassed their weapons offered fierce resistance, the Kremlin said its ground, air and naval forces had been put on high alert following Putin’s order over the weekend. Reinforcing his rhetoric, Putin denounced the United States and its allies as an “empire of lies.”

Many have reminisced about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and fears that the West could be embroiled in a direct conflict with Russia.

However, a senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had not yet seen any noticeable change in Russia’s nuclear position.

As far-reaching Western sanctions were imposed on Russian banks and other institutions, the ruble fell sharply, and the Central Bank of Russia stepped up to strengthen it, as did Putin by signing a decree restricting foreign currency.

But this did little to calm Russian fears. In Moscow, people are queuing up to withdraw cash, as sanctions have threatened to raise prices and lower the living standards of millions of ordinary Russians.

Striking another blow to Russia’s economy, oil giant Shell has said it is leaving the country because of the invasion, announcing it will leave joint ventures with state-owned Gazprom and other organizations and suspend participation in the Nordic Stream 2 Pipeline Project between Russia and Europe.

Meanwhile, all over Ukraine, frightened families huddled in shelters, basements or corridors for the night.

“I sit and pray that these talks end successfully, that they agree to stop the massacre, and that there is no more war,” said Alexandra Mikhailova, crying, squeezing her cat in a makeshift shelter in the strategic southeast. port city of Mariupol. Around her parents tried to comfort the children and warm them.

The UN human rights chief said at least 102 civilians had been killed and hundreds wounded in more than four days of fighting – warning that the figure was likely well underestimated – and the Ukrainian president said at least 16 children had been killed.

More than half a million people fled the country after the invasion, another UN spokesman said, many leaving for Poland, Romania and Hungary. And millions have left their homes.

Among the refugees in Hungary was Maria Pauluszka, 24, head of the information technology project from Zhytomyr, a city about 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Kiev. She said her father stayed to fight the Russians.

“I’m proud of them,” she said. “A lot of my friends, a lot of young guys are going to … kill” Russian soldiers.

In Poland, Natalia Pivniuk, a young Ukrainian refugee from the western city of Lviv, described people crowding and pushing to board a train from Ukraine, which she said was “very scary, physically and mentally dangerous.”

“People are stressed … and when people are afraid, they become selfish and forget about everything,” she said. “People are injured because they were on this train.”

The negotiators met on Monday at a long table with the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine on the one hand and the Russian tricolor on the other.

But while Ukraine sent its defense minister and other senior officials, the Russian delegation was led by Putin’s cultural adviser, an unlikely envoy to end the war and perhaps a sign of how serious Moscow is about the talks.

It was not immediately clear what Putin was seeking in the talks or from the war itself, although Western officials believe he wants to overthrow the Ukrainian government and replace it with his own regime, reviving Moscow’s Cold War influence.

In addition, the UN General Assembly, consisting of 193 countries, opened its first emergency session in decades to combat the invasion of Ukraine. The President of the Assembly Abdullah Shahid called for an immediate ceasefire, maximum restraint on all sides and a “full return to diplomacy and dialogue.”

During other battles, strategic ports in the south were attacked by Russian troops. Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov “holds”, said Zelensky’s adviser Alexei Orastovich. The bombing of an oil depot in the eastern city of Sumy is reported. Ukrainian demonstrators protested against the assassination attempt by Russian troops in the port of Berdyansk.

In the war, which is being fought both on the ground and on the Internet, cyberattacks have affected Ukrainian embassies around the world and Russian media.

At this stage, Ukraine is many years away from reaching the standards for EU membership. The addition to the bloc of 27 countries must be approved unanimously.

In general, the consensus was that deep corruption in Ukraine could complicate the country’s accession to the EU. However, in an interview with Euronews on Sunday, the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said: “We want them to be in the European Union.”


Isachenkov and Litvinov reported from Moscow. Ellen Nickmeyer, Eric Tucker, Robert Burns and Hope Ian in Washington; James Laporta in Miami; Francesca Ebel, Joseph Federman and Andrew Drake in Kiev; Mstislav Chernov and Nick Dumitrache in Mariupol, Ukraine; Lorne Cook in Brussels; and other AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.


Follow the coverage of the crisis in Ukraine in the AP at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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