Russian troops kept up pressure on Ukraine’s capital and air raid sirens were heard across the besieged country overnight, even as diplomatic talks between the two sides resumed on Monday. Prospects for a speedy end to the fighting, however, appear dim.
The attacks around the capital, Kyiv, came a day after Russia escalated its offensive by shelling areas close to the Polish border, including a training base critical to Ukraine’s defense. Ukrainian officials said at least 35 people were killed and 134 wounded when more than 30 cruise missiles were fired at the Yavoriv military facility on Sunday. It was the major, most westward target struck so far in the 18-day invasion.
Russia’s military said 20 civilians were killed by a Ukrainian ballistic missile strike on Monday in the eastern city of Donetsk, in the separatist Donetsk region. The claim couldn’t be independently verified.
The fighting, now in its third week, continued to exact a human toll. A pregnant woman and her baby died after Russia bombed the maternity hospital where she was meant to give birth. Associated Press images of the woman being rushed to an ambulance on a stretcher were circulated around the world and encapsulated the horror of attacks on humanity’s most innocent.
The war has forced more than 2.8 million people to flee Ukraine. Thousands of civilians and soldiers have been killed.
Here are some key things to know about the conflict:
WHAT IS THE STATE OF THE FIGHTING?
Russian troops refocused their efforts to seize Kyiv on Monday, firing artillery on suburbs, a local official said on Ukrainian television.
The official also said a town councilor for Brovary, east of Kyiv, had been killed in fighting there and shells fell on the towns of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, which have seen some of the worst conflict during Russia’s stalled attempt to take the capital.
Two people were killed when artillery hit a nine-story residential building in a northern district of the city early Monday morning, destroying apartments on several floors and igniting a fire. Ukrainian authorities said two people died and seven were injured after Russian forces struck an airplane factory in Kyiv, sparking a large fire.
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.
The Ukrainian president’s office reported Monday that airstrikes hit residential buildings near the important southern city of Mykolaiv, as well as in the eastern city of Kharkiv, and knocked out a television tower in the Rivne region in the northwest. Explosions rang out overnight around the Russian-occupied Black Sea port of Kherson.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Monday its forces had advanced 11 kilometers (7 miles) over the past 24 hours. A ministry spokesman did not comment in a video statement on humanitarian corridors or the crisis in the desperate, strategically important city of Mariupol.
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO CIVILIANS?
Civilians continue to pay a price for the war in Ukraine. The Associated Press has learned that a pregnant woman and her baby died after Russian forces bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol.
In video and photos Wednesday by AP journalists after the attack on the hospital, the woman was seen stroking her bloodied lower abdomen as rescuers rushed her through the rubble in the besieged city of Mariupol, her blanched face mirroring her shock at what had just happened. It was among the most brutal moments so far in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The AP team tracked down the victims in the hospital where they had been transferred, on the outskirts of Mariupol. Surgeon Timur Marin said the baby showed no signs of life after a Caesarean section and attempts to resuscitate the mother were unsuccessful.
On Sunday, an American journalist was killed and another injured when their vehicle came under fire from Russian forces outside Kyiv.
The U.N. has recorded at least 596 civilian deaths, though it believes the true toll is much higher, and Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office said that at least 85 children are among them. More than 2.6 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the conflict.
The Ukrainian government meanwhile announced plans for new humanitarian aid and evacuation corridors Monday and a top Red Cross official says the war has become “nothing short of a nightmare” for those living in besieged cities.
WHAT HAS THE AP DIRECTLY WITNESSED OR CONFIRMED?
AP video shows the aftermath of Russian shelling that hit a nine-story apartment building in the northern Obolonskyi district of Kyiv. Firefighters worked to rescue survivors, painstakingly carrying an injured woman on a stretcher away from the blackened and still smoking building.
In the besieged port city of Mariupol, Russian artillery hit a residential building that caught fire on Sunday. The surrounded city, where the war has produced some of the greatest human suffering, remained cut off despite earlier talks on creating aid or evacuation convoys.
“Daddy, I can’t bear it anymore,” cried out Mariupol resident, Natalia Koldash as she huddled with a group of people hiding in the hallway of a building.
HOW ARE TALKS PROCEEDING?
A fourth round of talks was underway Monday between Ukrainian and Russian officials via video conference to discuss getting aid to cities and towns under fire, among other issues. Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted a photo of the two sides meeting by video link.
The talks will involve the same higher-level officials who met earlier in neighboring Belarus. Previous talks have not led to major breakthroughs or a solution for getting aid or evacuation convoys to Mariupol.
“Everyone is waiting for news. We will definitely report in the evening,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday in a new video address.
Zelenskyy has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet with him directly, a request that has gone unanswered by the Kremlin.
Also Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied media reports alleging that Russia asked China for military assistance to help advance its offensive in Ukraine.
“No, Russia has its own potential to continue the operation, which, as we have said, is unfolding in accordance with the plan and will be completed on time and in full,” Peskov told his daily conference call with reporters.