40-mile Russian convoy threatens Kyiv; shelling intensifies

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A 40-mile convoy of Russian tanks and other vehicles threatened Ukraine’s capital Tuesday, the sixth day of the war. But even as Russia intensified shelling of the country’s second-largest city, the Kremlin has found itself increasingly isolated by tough economic sanctions that have sent its currency plummeting.


After a first, five-hour session of talks between Ukraine and Russia yielded no stop in the fighting, both sides agreed to another meeting in coming days.

Ukraine’s embattled president, however, said he believed the stepped-up shelling was designed to force him into concessions.


“I believe Russia is trying to put pressure (on Ukraine) with this simple method,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday in a video address.

He did not offer details of the talks that took place, but he said Kyiv was not prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting another with rocket artillery.”


Six days into the invasion, the Russian military’s movements have been stalled by fierce resistance on the ground and a surprising inability to dominate the airspace.

Many Ukrainian civilians, meanwhile, spent another night huddled in shelters, basements or corridors.


“I sit and pray for these negotiations to end successfully, so that they reach an agreement to end the slaughter,” said Alexandra Mikhailova, weeping as she clutched her cat in a shelter in Mariupol.

Around her, parents tried to console children and keep them warm.
The Kremlin has twice in as many days raised the specter of nuclear war and put on high alert an arsenal that includes intercontinental ballistic missiles and long-range bombers.

Stepping up his rhetoric, President Vladimir Putin denounced the United States and its allies as an “empire of lies.”


Meanwhile, an embattled Ukraine moved to solidify its ties to the West by applying to join the European Union — a largely symbolic move for now, but one that won’t sit well with Putin, who has long accused the United States of trying to pull Ukraine out of Moscow’s orbit.


A top Putin aide and head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, said that during the first talks held between the sides since the invasion, the envoys “found certain points on which common positions could be foreseen.” He said they agreed to continue the discussions in the days ahead.
As the talks along the Belarusian border wrapped up, several blasts could be heard in Kyiv, and Russian troops advanced on the city of nearly 3 million. The convoy of armored vehicles, tanks, artillery and support vehicles was 17 miles (25 kilometers) from the center of the city and stretched about 40 miles, according to satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies


People in Kyiv lined up for groceries after the end of a weekend curfew, standing beneath a building with a gaping hole blown in its side. Kyiv remained “a key goal” for the Russians, Zelenskyy said, noting that it was hit by three missile strikes on Monday and that hundreds of saboteurs were roaming the city.
“They want to break our nationhood, that’s why the capital is constantly under threat,” Zelenskyy said.


Messages aimed at the advancing Russian soldiers popped up on billboards, bus stops and electronic traffic signs across the capital. Some used profanity to encourage Russians to leave. Others appealed to their humanity.
“Russian soldier — Stop! Remember your family. Go home with a clean conscience,” one read.


Video from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, with a population of about 1.5 million, showed residential areas being shelled, with apartment buildings shaken by repeated, powerful blasts.
Authorities in Kharkiv said at least seven people had been killed and dozens injured. They warned that casualties could be far higher.


“They wanted to have a blitzkrieg, but it failed, so they act this way,” said 83-year-old Valentin Petrovich, who watched the shelling from his downtown apartment. He gave just his first name and his patronymic, a middle name derived from his father’s name, out of fear for his safety.
The Russian military has denied targeting residential areas despite abundant evidence of shelling of homes, schools and hospitals.
Fighting raged in other towns and cities. The strategic port city of Mariupol,

on the Sea of Azov, is “hanging on,” said Zelenskyy adviser Oleksiy Arestovich. An oil depot was reported bombed in the eastern city of Sumy.

Russian artillery hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, and more than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed, the head of the region wrote on Telegram.

Dmytro Zhyvytskyy posted photographs of the charred shell of a four-story building and rescuers searching rubble.

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