Firefighters extinguish flames after a Russian rocket attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine. AP
In the war's third week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested there was still some reason to be optimistic that negotiations with the Russian government might yet yield an agreement.
Previewing his speech to the US Congress, Zelensky thanked President Joe Biden and "all the friends of Ukraine” for $13.6 billion in new support. He appealed for more weapons and more sanctions to punish Russia and repeated his call to "close the skies over Ukraine to Russian missiles and planes.”
Zelenskyy said Russia’s demands were becoming "more realistic" after their delegations met Tuesday via video. The sides were expected to speak again later Wednesday.
"Efforts are still needed, patience is needed,” he said in his video address to the nation. "Any war ends with an agreement.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday. Reuters
He said Russian forces had been unable to move deeper into Ukrainian territory but had continued their heavy shelling of cities.
Developments on the diplomatic front and on the ground occurred as the number of people fleeing Ukraine amid Europe’s heaviest fighting since World War II eclipsed 3 million.
Zelensky said 28,893 civilians were able to flee through nine humanitarian corridors in the past day although the Russians refused to allow aid into Mariupol.
Shrapnel from an artillery shell slammed into a 12-story apartment building in central Kyiv on Wednesday, obliterating the top floor and igniting a fire that sent plumes of smoke over the area, according to a statement and images released by the Kyiv emergencies agency. The neighboring building was also damaged. The agency reported two victims, without saying if they were injured or killed.
Smoke rises after an explosion in Kyiv on Wednesday. AFP
Also, a powerful explosion thundered overnight in Kharkiv that was heard across the eastern city.
In addition to airstrikes and shelling by ground forces, Russian naval ships fired overnight on a town south of Mariupol on the Azov Sea and another near Odessa on the Black Sea, according to local officials.
Russian forces have intensified fighting in the Kyiv suburbs, notably around the town of Bucha in the northwest and the highway leading west toward Zhytomyr, the head of the Kyiv region Oleksiy Kuleba said. He said Russian troops are trying to cut off the capital from transport arteries and destroy logistical capabilities even as they plan a wide-ranging attack to seize Kyiv.
Twelve towns around Kyiv are without water and six without heat.
Russia has occupied the city of Ivankiv, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Kyiv, and controls the surrounding region on the border with Belarus, Kuleba said.
Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said Russia dropped a bomb on Saturday afternoon on the school where about 90 people were sheltering, causing a fire that engulfed the building.
Sergei Orlov, the encircled port city’s deputy mayor, told the BBC people had been taking cover at the location since the conflict began. He added the number of casualties was not yet known, but estimated that between 1,000 and 1,200 people were there.
The animals are "extremely traumatised" and under-nourished, having not been fed for between one to two weeks, Robert Kruijff, the director of the Stiching Leeuw association that rescued them told AFP.
"I am very, very worried for Ukraine. First and foremost, this may lead to a long-term conflict that will completely destroy the health system," Lucica Ditiu, a Romanian physician and the Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership in Geneva, was quoted as saying.
Prominent Saudi journalist, novelist, and media personality Hani Naqshbandi passed away on Sunday. Hani Naqshbandi was born in Medina in 1963.
The wise leadership and the UAE government do not hesitate to provide the appropriate environment for the advancement of the youth and unleash their energies and abilities, they said.
Egypt will hold a presidential vote on Dec.10-12, the election authority said on Monday, with the winner to be announced by Dec.18. President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a former army chief, has ruled for nearly a decade in the Arab world's most populous country.