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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Top diplomats fail to achieve progress on Ukraine conflict

Ukrainians waited to board a Poland-bound bus at the central railway station in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Thursday.

By Marc Santora, Anton Troianovski and Shashank Bengali

The top diplomats from Russia and Ukraine failed to make progress during talks on Thursday, dashing hopes that President Vladimir Putin of Russia might soon pull back from a 2-week-old conflict that has unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe and forced millions from their homes.

Meeting in Turkey, the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers ended their talks without any agreement on a cease-fire or even on allowing Ukrainians in areas under Russian bombardment to escape conditions so dire that in one besieged city, Mariupol, some families are felling trees for fuel and burying bodies in trenches.

Despite hopes before the meeting that Moscow’s demands were narrowing, Russia’s envoy said that his country would not end its offensive until Ukraine surrendered, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, told reporters after the roughly 90-minute encounter.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, indicated that a cease-fire was not even on the table, and while he said that Russia remained open to talks, his remarks suggested that the Kremlin’s view of the conflict was detached from reality — at one point denying that Russia had attacked Ukraine at all.

The talks came on the 15th day of Russia’s military campaign. Here are other major developments:

— At least three people, including a child, were killed on Wednesday after a Russian missile strike devastated a maternity hospital in Mariupol, a statement from the local government said.

— Vice President Kamala Harris visited Poland, a NATO ally worried about Russian aggression, where she repeated U.S. pledges to “defend every inch of NATO territory” and emphasized U.S. humanitarian and security assistance to Ukraine and its neighbors. But she sidestepped questions about Poland’s offer to hand fighter jets over to the United States to transfer to Ukraine, a proposal the Pentagon has rejected.

— The British government on Thursday imposed sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs, including Roman Abramovich, the owner of the Chelsea soccer club, and Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire aluminum magnate with ties to Putin.

— The leaders of the European Union member states were to meet on Thursday in Versailles, France, 103 years after world leaders gathered there to sign the treaty that ended the First World War. They are expected to discuss Ukraine’s appeal to join the bloc.

— More companies are pulling out of Russia, including the hotel chains Hyatt and Hilton. Hitachi said it was suspending exports to Russia and pausing manufacturing.

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