Diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine have stepped up, with Ukrainian and Russian negotiators set to resume talks, after Russia attacked a base near the Polish border and fighting raged across the country.
A barrage of Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s Yavoriv International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security, a base just 15 miles (25 km) from the Polish border that has previously hosted Nato military instructors, killing 35 people and wounding 134, a Ukrainian official said on Sunday.
On Monday morning the violence continued, with shelling of a residential building in the capital killing two.
But hopes of diplomatic progress were raised after Russia and Ukraine gave positive assessments after weekend negotiations.
“Russia is already beginning to talk constructively,” Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said in a video online. “I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days.”
A Russian delegate to the talks, Leonid Slutsky, was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying they had made significant progress and it was possible the delegations could soon reach draft agreements. Neither side said what these would cover. Three rounds of talks between the two sides in Belarus, most recently last Monday, had focused mainly on humanitarian issues.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the countries’ delegations have been speaking daily by video link and a clear aim of his negotiators was to “do everything” to arrange for him to meet Putin. “We must hold on. We must fight. And we will win,” Zelenskiy said in a late night video speech. Putin said on Friday there had been some “positive shifts” in the talks but did not elaborate.
The talks come after the UK said Russian naval forces had blockaded Ukraine’s Black Sea coast and cut the country off from maritime trade.
In an update late Sunday, the UK defence ministry said the “distant blockade” by Russia’s navy had effectively isolated Ukraine from maritime trade and forces continued missile strikes on targets across the country.
The ministry also noted that Russia had conducted one amphibious landing in the Sea of Azov and “could look to conduct further such operations in the coming weeks.”
Russia sends message with Yavoriv strike but attack on Poland unlikely