June 30, 2022

Russian missiles hit Lviv |  Reuters

Russian missiles hit Lviv | Reuters

  • Russian missile strike zone near Lviv
  • Biden talks to Xi on Friday
  • The killing of an American citizen among civilians in Chernihiv
  • Negotiators are still far apart in talks

Kyiv/Lviv, Ukraine, March 18 (Reuters) – Russia fired missiles at an airport near Lviv on Friday, the city where hundreds of thousands of refugees are sheltering from Ukraine’s battlefields, as Moscow tries to regain the lead in its stalled campaign against Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden was scheduled to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping later on Friday, in an attempt to starve Russia’s war machine by isolating Moscow from a superpower that has yet to condemn its offensive.

More than three weeks since President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion to subdue what he calls an artificial state unworthy of nationalism, the elected Ukrainian government is still in place and Russian forces have not captured a single large city.

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Russian forces suffered heavy losses during the bombing of residential areas and reduced them to rubble, which led to the flight of more than 3 million refugees. Moscow denies targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to disarm its neighbour.

“Russian forces have made little progress this week,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in a daily Military Intelligence update.

“Ukrainian forces around Kyiv and Mykolaiv continue to thwart Russian attempts to encircle the cities. The cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol are still besieged and subjected to heavy Russian bombardment.”

At least three explosions were heard near Lviv airport on Friday morning, with videos recorded on social media showing large explosions and billowing plumes of smoke in the form of mushrooms.

The mayor of Lviv, Andrei Sadovy, said that several missiles hit an aircraft maintenance facility, destroying buildings, but causing no casualties.

The city in western Ukraine is located near the Polish border, hundreds of miles from the advance of Russia and was one of the main destinations for Ukrainians forced to flee the fighting zones.

Russia has stepped up missile attacks on separate targets in western Ukraine in recent days in what Ukrainian officials see as an attempt to extend the conflict beyond the areas where their forces are now bogged down.

Biden pressured Beijing

With financial sanctions and diplomatic ostracism cutting Russia off from advanced economies around the world, China is Russia’s last great economic lifeline.

Putin and Xi signed a “borderless” friendship pact three weeks before the invasion in a bragging event on the morning of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing last month. The document reiterated some of Russia’s grievances over Ukraine.

China has so far treaded cautiously in public, abstaining from voting on UN resolutions condemning Russia, while refusing to refer to the attack as an invasion and repeating criticism of the West.

But Washington, which this week announced $800 million in new military aid to Kiev, now says Moscow wants more than diplomatic cover from Beijing, and has asked for money and weapons to continue the war, which Moscow and Beijing deny.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the United States is concerned that China is “directly considering assisting Russia with military equipment for use in Ukraine.”

Blinken told reporters that Biden, who called Putin a “murderous dictator,” would make it clear to President Xi in his call that China “will be held responsible for any actions it takes in support of Russian aggression.” The two leaders are scheduled to speak at 1300 GMT.

“Beijing will do everything it can to avoid having to openly take sides, but its previous relatively cost-free relationship with Russia has become complex and now exposes China to increased geopolitical and economic reputational risks,” said Helena Legarda, senior analyst. at the Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Hours before the phone call, China sailed an aircraft carrier through the sensitive Taiwan Strait – obscured by a US destroyer – said a source with direct knowledge of the matter. Read more

Russia has been bombing heavily eastern Ukraine’s cities, especially Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, a besieged southern port for three weeks where residents have been sheltering without access to food or water.

His family said one of the dead in Chernihiv was an American citizen named Jimmy Hill, who was shot while waiting in line for bread. Read more

“His body was found in the street,” his sister wrote on Facebook.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Peter Graf. Edited by Tomasz Janowski

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