Russian and Ukrainian officials will meet on Monday for a third round of direct talks to discuss a possible ceasefire in the Kremlin’s 10-day war.
The ceasefire dealt a severe blow on Saturday as plans to build a “humanitarian corridor” to allow Ukrainian citizens to leave the southern sieges of Mariupol and Volnovakha were suspended due to continued Russian shelling in the area.
But David Arahamiya, a leading member of President Serhiy Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, who took part in previous face-to-face talks, said on Facebook on Saturday that a third round of talks would take place on Monday.
Separately, on Saturday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken briefly crossed Poland’s border with Western Ukraine in solidarity with Kyiv. Mr Blinken was in Poland as part of an Eastern European swing to talk to officials and observe the conditions for more than 1.5 million Ukrainians who fled to neighboring countries after the fighting began.
Mr. Blinken predicted that Ukraine would “win” the battle.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, who accompanied Mr Blinken across the border, echoed Mr Zelensky in putting pressure on the US and its NATO allies to help desperate Ukrainian forces trying to repel a larger and better armed Russian invasion army.
“Ukraine will still win this war because it is a war of the people for their land,” said Mr. Kuleb, according to Agence France-Presse. “… The question is the price.”
Mr. Blinken added that “the whole world stands with Ukraine, as I stand here in Ukraine, with my friend, my colleague.” Previous Russian-Ukrainian talks were held on the border with Belarus. There was no immediate confirmation from the Kremlin, which has so far sent only middle-ranking officials to represent Russia in the talks.
Despite fiercer-than-expected resistance, Russian forces continue to advance against Kyiv, Kharkiv, and other major Ukrainian cities. Cities such as Mariupol on the southern coast of Ukraine have come under particular pressure.