News World Russia’s deadly attack on Ukraine capital on day of peace talks
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Russia’s deadly attack on Ukraine capital on day of peace talks

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Ukrainian and Russian officials have met again for peace talks – all the while invaders launched attacks on the capital and killed more civilians.

A television tower is among the latest Ukrainian communications assets to be targeted.

Nine people were confirmed dead on Tuesday morning after that attack.

In the capital, Kyiv, authorities have so far counted two bodies following two missile strikes – one of which hit homes.

Reuters reports that Ukrainian television footage showed firefighters clambering through rubble and up a ladder into what was left of the smouldering apartment block that was hit in the Obolon district.

A corpse lay on the ground, the face covered.

Maksim Korovii explained how he hid in a wardrobe after being woken by his worried mother when the building was hit.

“We thought that we were being captured, that the Russians were getting in through the door,” Mr Korovii said.

“We got out from the apartment and saw that the staircase was not there any more, everything was on fire.”

The attacks followed days of intense fighting in suburbs northwest of Kyiv – including Irpin where an American journalist was killed.

British journalist Benjamin Hall is among the latest to be wounded near Kyiv, the BBC reported just before 7am Tuesday.

Details of what led to his injuries are yet to be confirmed but the BBC said Mr Hall had been gathering information as part of his duties for the American Fox News stations.

Also in Kyiv, three Russian rockets hit the Antonov aircraft factory and firefighters “localised” a blaze at the plant, Deputy Mayor Mykola Povoroznyk said. There were no immediate reports of any deaths at the factory.

Meanwhile, in the Russia-backed breakaway region of Donetsk, at least 20 people were killed in a ballistic missile strike, according to a Telegram message from the regional health minister.

Pro-Russian separatists who control the region said earlier a child was among those hit, calling it a war crime.

Russia blamed Ukraine for the attack, but Ukrainian officials strongly denied the report.

Reporters on the ground could not immediately verify who launched the missile.

The New York Times confirmed civilians were among the dead.

In its latest casualty count, the United Nations said that at least 636 Ukrainian civilians, including 46 children.

The UN has also recorded more than 1000 wounded civilians, including 62 children.

The actual toll is likely much higher, the UN said, since there have been delays receiving and corroborating reports from areas of intense hostilities such as Kharkiv and Mariupol.

Mother and baby become victims of war

A pregnant mother – who was at the centre of a photograph that became a symbol of the devastation in Mariupol – is among the latest war casualties.

The image captured the suffering in Ukraine: a woman who should have been preparing for the birth of her child being stretchered over debris and smouldering soil, her pale and swollen belly carrying new life while she fought for her own.

She was one of the survivors taken to safety after Russian forces attacked a maternity and children’s hospital.

The Associated Press photograph was shared globally, including on the front page of The New York Times.

On Tuesday morning, AP reported that the woman and her baby had since died in hospital.

The agency said that following the March 9 strike, the woman was taken to another hospital.

Realising that she was losing her baby, the woman pleaded with medics: “Kill me now!”. Neither she nor her baby could be saved.

Her plight highlights the dangers faced by innocent women, men and children even in between shelling: medical supplies, food and water are running low. Phone and internet services are cutting out.

Medics tried to save the woman and her baby after they were recovered from the bombed maternity hospital in Mariupol. Photo: AAP

Multiple attempts to remove civilians from Mariupol have failed because attacks have continued even while innocent families were promised a safe passage out of the southern port city.

But the city council said 160 cars had left at lunchtime on Monday (local time).

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Ukraine was being decimated before the eyes of the world and the impact on civilians was “reaching terrifying proportions.”

Russia had attacked 24 health facilities and hundreds of thousands of people were without water and electricity, Mr Guterres said.

Russia denies targeting civilians, saying it is conducting a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine.

Ukraine and its allies call this an absurd pretext for a war of choice.

Peace talks paused

Ukraine says it has held “hard” talks on a ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops and security guarantees with Russia despite the fatal shelling of a residential building in Kyiv.

Both sides had suggested some results could be in sight after earlier rounds primarily focused on ceasefires to get aid to towns and cities under siege by Russian forces and allow civilians to leave; those truces have frequently failed.

Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak, who on Sunday said Russia was beginning to talk “constructively” wrote ahead of Monday’s talks: “Negotiations. 4th round. On peace, ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops & security guarantees.”

He later said discussions were hard because the political systems of Russia and Ukraine were too different.

“A technical pause has been taken in the negotiations until tomorrow. For additional work in the working subgroups and clarification of individual definitions. Negotiations continue,” Mr Podolyak said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky also said the negotiators took “a technical pause” and planned to meet again on Tuesday.

Mr Zelensky had earlier confirmed that the talks via video conference were underway.

“Everyone is waiting for news. We will definitely report in the evening,” he said in a video address.

The Kremlin said everything was going to plan after one of Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov, made the strongest public acknowledgement yet that the operation was slower than hoped.

Russia has enough military clout to accomplish its aims in Ukraine on time and in full, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

He added that by suggesting it was disappointed that the US and EU were tempting Russia into storming major population centres in Ukraine, something he said Mr Putin had asked the army not to do.

Russia points blame for breakaway-region bombing

Russia’s defence ministry said 20 people have been killed and 28 wounded when a Ukrainian missile with a cluster charge exploded in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

The ministry provided no evidence and Ukraine denied launching such an attack.

Reuters could not independently verify the statements by either side.

“It is unmistakably a Russian rocket or another munition, there’s not even any point talking about it,” Ukrainian military spokesman Leonid Matyukhin told a televised briefing.

Ukraine has denied suggestions it would try to recapture the eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, under the control of Russian-backed forces since 2014, by force.

Ukraine and its allies have previously accused Russia of planning “false flag” operations to create pretexts for further military offensives against Ukraine.

Asked about reports of a Ukrainian attack on Donetsk, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was a tragedy.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti carried photographs with a watermark reading “Donetsk People’s Republic territorial defence headquarters” which appeared to show bodies lying on the ground, with separatist militia and a fire truck on the scene.

Video shot by a Reuters photographer in the centre of Donetsk showed damaged and burned-out vehicles.

Several bodies and a fragment of a missile with smoke rising from it were visible.

Reuters wrote to the press secretary of the head of the self-proclaimed statelet surrounding Donetsk seeking comment but she did not respond.

-with AAP