Ukraine and Russia Resume Talks as Moscow’s Bombing Campaign Grinds On

KYIV, Ukraine — Diplomatic efforts to end Russia’s war in Ukraine resumed Monday morning, after a weekend missile strike near Moscow near the Polish border brought the fighting closer to Western Europe and highlighted the risk of a wider conflict.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met at videoconference. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan was also set to meet his Chinese counterpart in Rome after warning Beijing to resist what Washington has described as Russian calls for Chinese help in the war.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, called the talks Monday morning “hard discussions.”

“Although Russia realizes the nonsense of its aggressive actions, it still has a delusion that 19 days of violence against peaceful Ukrainian cities is the right strategy,” Mr. Podolyak said.

Before-and-after satellite images showed destruction of residential areas in Mariupol, as Ukrainian authorities said shelling hit a high-rise in Kyiv; an award-winning American journalist was killed; US officials say Russia asked China for military assistance. Photo: Ukrainian State Emergency Services / AP

Nearly three weeks into the war, Russia has seized territory in the south of Ukraine but has been fought to a standstill around the capital, Kyiv, and elsewhere. Increasingly, its forces have resorted to bombing residential areas and civilian infrastructure in an effort to wear down Ukrainian resistance.

On Monday, two people were killed and 12 were wounded after a fire started in a nine-story building in the Obolon district of Kyiv, the Ukrainian military said. Photographs of the facade showed scarring suggesting an explosion from an artillery shell or missile.

US officials said on Sunday that Russia had asked China for military equipment and other assistance for its war effort. In addition to cautioning Beijing against military assistance, Washington said it would act if China tried to help Russia get around US sanctions.

A Kyiv resident searched for her belongings on Monday in an apartment building after it was hit by artillery shelling.


Photo:

Vadim Ghirda / Associated Press

Elderly residents crossed a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, near Kyiv, on Sunday.


Photo:

Felipe Dana / Associated Press

“It is a concern of ours, and we have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions,” Mr. Sullivan told CNN on Sunday.

China has said it understood the security concerns Russia has invoked to justify its invasion. It also abstained from a United Nations vote condemning Russian aggression last month. But Beijing has distanced itself from the conflict in other ways and repeatedly called for an end to the fighting.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia had not asked China for assistance in Ukraine, adding that Russia’s special military operation, as it calls the war, was “going according to plan and will be completed on time and in full.”

Later on Monday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was due to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. Mr. Erdogan has maintained friendly relations with both Ukraine and Russia, refusing to join Western sanctions against Moscow and keeping Turkish skies open to Russian air traffic. At the same time he has allowed weapons sales to Ukraine.

Ukranian servicemen used a makeshift pathway to cross a river next to a destroyed bridge near Irpin on Sunday.


Photo:

aris messinis / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

A Ukrainian serviceman guarded a position Saturday in Mariupol, which has come under heavy fire in southeastern Ukraine.


Photo:

Mstyslav Chernov / Associated Press

German officials said Mr. Scholz would explore possible compromises between the two warring parties that could lead to a cease-fire agreement. Ukraine’s and Russia’s foreign ministers met in Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, last week in a first round of high-level talks, which yielded no results.

While the various front lines in Ukraine remained largely static over the weekend, a Russian airstrike hit a Ukrainian military training center close to the Polish border on Sunday, killing 35 people at the facility one day after Moscow warned the West that it would consider arms deliveries to Ukraine as legitimate targets.

The strike just 10 miles from Poland marked an escalation in Moscow’s offensive. A large portion of the military aid from the West — one of the largest transfers of arms in history — passes through Poland into western Ukraine, part of the fine line the US and its NATO allies are walking between aiding Ukraine militarily while steering clear of providing troops or enforcing a no-fly zone that Ukraine has called for.

Areas no longer controlled by Ukraine as of Friday

Direction of invasion forces

Controlled by or allied to Russia

Primary refugee crossing locations

Chernobyl

Not in operation

Ukraine territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Controlled by

separatists

Areas no longer controlled by Ukraine as of Friday

Direction of invasion forces

Controlled by or allied to Russia

Ukraine territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Primary refugee crossing locations

Chernobyl

Not in operation

Controlled by

separatists

Areas no longer controlled by Ukraine as of Friday

Direction of invasion forces

Controlled by or allied to Russia

Primary refugee crossing locations

Ukraine territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Chernobyl

Not in operation

Controlled by

separatists

Areas no longer controlled by Ukraine as of Friday

Direction of invasion forces

Controlled by or allied to Russia

Primary refugee crossing locations

Ukraine territory, recognized by Putin as independent

Areas no longer controlled by Ukraine as of Friday

Direction of invasion forces

Controlled by or allied to Russia

Primary refugee crossing locations

Ukraine territory, recognized by Putin as independent

The attack increases the risk of the war spilling over into NATO territory, which the US has warned would be treated as an attack on the alliance. Any strike on Poland would bring “the full force of the NATO alliance to bear in responding to it,” Mr. Sullivan said in an interview Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

Armaments supplied to Ukraine by the US and its European allies — especially antitank and antiaircraft weapons — have played an important role in checking the advance of Russian ground troops, who have suffered heavy casualties in the north as they have tried to encircle Kyiv.

The attacks in western Ukraine come as Russia’s offensives around Kyiv and the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv appear to be bogged down while Moscow’s troops switch to targeting civilian infrastructure and residential areas from afar.

Crowds gathered Saturday at a train station in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.


Photo:

Justyna Mielnikiewicz / MAPS for The Wall Street Journal

A billboard in Lviv displays a quote from Ukraine’s national anthem.


Photo:

Justyna Mielnikiewicz / MAPS for The Wall Street Journal

In the south, Russia has made faster headway, helped by its prior military presence on the Crimean Peninsula it annexed in 2014 and by a more favorable terrain.

Russian government officials said Monday that Crimea and the Ukrainian region of Donbas controlled by pro-Russia separatists had been connected by a land corridor, which if true would offer Moscow wider control over a greater swath of mainland Ukraine.

Russians have pounded the city of Mariupol between the two regions, boxing its defenders into a tighter zone of fighting.

The US and its NATO allies have been sending Javelins, Stingers and other weapons to Ukraine to help the country defend itself from Russian attacks. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday explains how some of these weapons work, and why experts say they’s useful to Ukrainian forces. Photo: Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press / AFP via Getty Images

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti cited Georgy Muradov, Russia’s permanent representative to Crimea and deputy prime minister of the Crimean government, as saying that “Crimea and Donbas are now connected by a land corridor through the territory of Ukraine” and “the highway from Crimea to Mariupol has been taken under control. ”

In Kyiv the government denied the Russians had secured such a corridor.

“In reality, Russian troops are far from creating the corridor,” said Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukraine’s president. “In order for such a ‘corridor’ to work, it is necessary that Mariupol fall.”

He said the Russians would also need to subdue civilian resistance in the regions nominally conquered by Russian troops. “So far nothing of the sort has been seen.”

Write to Alan Cullison at alan.cullison@wsj.com

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