A bomb blast near the northern city of Kharkiv on Monday killed at least one woman and injured 31 others, and the city council says the death toll has risen to seven in the past few days. CNN approaches Russian officials to comment on the attack.
According to social media videos posted by CNN, several rockets were seen exploding together in a residential area of the Saltivka neighborhood near a supermarket northeast of the city where the Russian military frequently targeted.
Ukraine’s attorney general Irina Venedikova described the Kharkiv situation as “hellish” and shared a video of a missile striking a kitchen window and tearing a woman’s leg, after which she died in hospital.
As talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials came to an end on Monday evening, CNN reporters in Kiev heard several large bombs, which were followed by sirens throughout the city.
The two sides discussed a “ceasefire and an end to war in the Ukrainian region,” Mikhail Podoliyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, told reporters.
Without going into details, Bodoliyak said both sides would return to their capitals for consultations on whether many “decisions” could be implemented.
“The parties discussed holding another round of talks where these results could emerge,” he said.
The office of President Volodymyr Zhelensky said Monday that Ukraine had previously demanded an “immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops.”
Zhelensky had previously underestimated the importance of the talks, which he did not attend in person.
“I do not really believe in the end of this meeting, but let them try, so that the Ukrainian citizen should have no doubts. When there is a small chance, as president I did not try to stop the war.” He said Sunday.
The Russians face stiff opposition
Although the Ukrainians have little confidence in the negotiations to pave the way for peace, the chances of resolving the conflict appear to be shrinking rapidly.
Fighting has intensified in several strategic cities in Ukraine over the past day. A senior U.S. defense official told reporters Monday that Kharkiv “has a goal” for the Russians and that they are “constantly trying to advance” on the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. But the Russians have not yet captured the two cities, the official said.
The official explained that if Russia captures the two cities, it will “allow it to divide the eastern part of Ukraine.”
On Monday, CNN reporters spotted at least three “Uragan” multiple rocket launchers heading towards the Kharkiv front line on the Russian border south of Belgorod. They saw three missiles and a vehicle carrying missiles.
However, Russia’s large and well – armed military faced stiff opposition across the country, and ordinary Ukrainians and reservists joined forces in efforts to protect their families and homes, frustrating Moscow’s attempts to quickly control major cities.
Western allies are increasing its assistance to Ukraine through funding and weapons to assist Ukraine’s security.
But Western military assessments warn that Ukrainian forces will not be able to stand indefinitely.
As of Monday, most of the Russian ground forces appeared to be 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) north of Kiev, according to an intelligence update from the UK Ministry of Defense. The advance of those troops was slowed by fierce Ukrainian opposition at a nearby Hostomal airport, which the ministry said was “the main Russian motive for the first day of the conflict.”
The Russian military announced on Monday that it was an “open and safe” corridor for civilians to leave the capital, while reiterating its unsubstantiated claim that the Ukrainian government is using residents as a “human shield”.
The continuing Russian offensive has caused widespread suffering and loss of life in the Ukrainian people. More than half a million refugees have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency. The number of known civilians killed in Ukraine is 352, including 14 children, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said on Sunday.
Civil servants of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have accused Russia of attacking civilian areas. “In violation of the provisions of international humanitarian law, the occupiers insidiously carried out missile strikes on residential buildings in Zhytomir and Chernyhiv,” a statement said Monday.
CNN could not verify these claims independently.
Concerns about nuclear conflict
Pressure on the Kremlin is mounting as Ukraine’s Western allies try to blockade the country with weapons, and Russia faces a financial crisis, with the ruble falling free.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday raised the stakes by ordering his country’s nuclear forces to remain vigilant.
On Sunday, Belarus renounced non-nuclear status in a referendum. After the fall of the Soviet Union and Belarus relinquishing its reserves and becoming a nuclear-free zone, a vote in favor of a new constitution would theoretically allow Russia to re-deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus.
Speaking to reporters at a polling station in Minsk, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that if the West transferred nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, it could ask Putin to “return” the nuclear weapons provided by Belarus.
According to two sources close to the Ukrainian government, Ukrainian intelligence has indicated that Belarus is preparing to “directly participate” in the invasion of Ukraine. Lukashenko said last week that Belarusian troops could join the invasion “if necessary.”
Australian travel bans and targeted sanctions against Putin and senior members of his government went into effect on Monday, the country’s prime minister Scott Morrison confirmed in a statement.
South Korea and Singapore announced new sanctions on Russia on Monday.
CNN’s Paul Murphy, Artemis Moshtagian and Richard Roth reported from New York. Pete Muntean of CNN reported from Washington. CNN’s Tim Lister and Ivana Kottasova reported from Kiev. CNN’s Katrina Krebs, Olya Voinovich Lviv, reported from Ukraine. CNN’s Vasco Kodovio and Darya Tarasova reported from Moscow. CNN’s Katie Polglase, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Josh Pennington, Niamh Kennedy and Hannah Ritchie reported from London. CNN’s Tara John wrote from London, and CNN’s Helen Reagan wrote from Hong Kong.
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