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Ukrainians claim they have retaken ground before the latest talks

In what is now a back-and forth stalemate on ground, Ukrainian forces claimed to have retaken Kyiv's eastern suburb and an eastern city from the Russians. Negotiators began gathering Tuesday for a second round of talks aimed at halting the fighting.

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Ukrainians claim they have retaken ground before the latest talks

The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zilenskyy stated that his country was ready to declare its neutrality to Moscow and is open for compromises on the fate the Donbas, a disputed region to the east of the country, ahead of the talks in Istanbul.

The mayor of Irpin in northwestern Kyiv, which was the scene of heavy fighting, announced Monday that the city had been "liberated" by Russian troops.

Zelenskyy warned of Russian forces trying to regroup after losing the region.

In his late Monday night video address to the nation, the president stated that "We still need to fight, and we must endure." "We cannot express our emotions right now. "We can't set unrealistic expectations so we don't burnout."

After photos of a mother and her children being killed in shelling while trying to flee were circulated, Irpin was the subject of much attention. The bodies were found on the pavement along with luggage and a pet carrier.

According to a senior U.S. defense official, the U.S. believes that the Ukrainians also retook the town of Trostyanets south of Sumy in the east.

According to the official, who spoke under anonymity in order to discuss U.S intelligence assessments, Russian forces were mainly confined in defensive positions near Kyiv and made little progress elsewhere in the country.

According to the official, Russia appears to be less concerned with ground operations in Kyiv and and more focused on the Donbas. This is the region that is predominantly Russian-speaking where Moscow-backed rebels have waged a separatist war for eight years.

Russia appeared to be reassessing its war goals late last week as its forces were clogged in certain parts of the country. It stated that its primary goal was to take control of Donbas.

This suggested that Russia's President Vladimir Putin might be able to save his face, but it also raised fears in Ukraine that the Kremlin may want to divide the country and force it into surrendering a large portion of its territory.

A cyberattack took Ukraine's national telecommunications provider Ukrtelecom nearly offline. Yurii Shchyhol (chief of Ukraine's State Service for Special Communication), blamed "the enemy", but did not specifically name Russia. He stated that most customers had been cut off from the telephone, internet, and mobile service in order to allow coverage for Ukraine's military.

The governor also stated that Monday saw a missile strike on an oil depot in the Rivne region of western Ukraine. This was the second attack on oil facilities located in the area near the Polish border.

Recent days have seen the Ukrainian forces push back on other areas by the Russians.

Associated Press reporters saw in Makariv, west of the capital the remains of a Russian rocket launcher and a burnt Russian truck. They also saw the bodies of a soldier, a tank that had been destroyed by the Ukrainian army after it was attacked a few days earlier. The Associated Press also saw positions that were abandoned by Ukrainian soldiers, who had moved further west, but there was no sign of Russian troops in Yasnohorodka.

On Friday, a U.S. defense official stated that the Russians no longer had full control over Kherson, which was the first major city to be taken by Moscow's forces. The Kremlin denied that it had lost control of the city's southern part.

Russia has demanded for Ukraine to give up any chance of joining NATO. Moscow regards this as a threat. Zelenskyy has for his part stressed that Ukraine requires its own security guarantees as part of any deal.

Zelenskyy stated that he was open to neutrality over the weekend. Zelenskyy also stated that Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and sovereignty are unquestioned. However, he suggested that compromise could be possible regarding "the complicated issue of Donbas."

Although the Ukrainian leader has made similar suggestions before, he rarely elaborated on them as much. Turkish media reported that the Russian delegation arrived in Istanbul Monday to help create momentum for the talks.

It was still not clear how a compromise regarding the Donbas would fit with Ukraine's territorial integrity.

Other developments

Joe Biden did not apologize for calling for Putin's removal. He said he was only expressing his "moral outrage" and not seeking to change U.S. policies. Biden stated that "For God's Sake, this man cannot continue in power." The president responded on Monday: "I'm no walking back."

Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary General, stated that he had launched an effort for a humanitarian ceasefire to allow aid to enter and people to move about safely.

Most Americans are concerned that Russia's invasion will lead to the United States being drawn into conflict. This is according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The Group of Seven major economies has rejecteda Kremlin demand for some countries to pay in rubles for Russia’s natural gas. This demand was made to support Russia's currency, which is currently under Western sanctions.

Talks by video and in person have not resulted in any progress towards ending the more than month-old war that has killed thousands of people and driven over 10 million Ukrainians from homes. This includes nearly 4 million people who fled the country.

The mayor of Mariupol said that half of the pre-war population of over 400,000 had fled the southern port under siege. This was often during weeks of shelling and shooting.

Alina Beskrovna, a woman who fled the city in a car convoy, made it to Poland. She said that desperate people were melting snow for water and cooking over open fires to cook despite the threat of bombardment. "If you don't, there will be nothing to eat."

She said that "a lot of people are just, i think, starving and dying in their apartments right now without any help." "It's mass murder at the hands Russians."

Putin's ground forces have become bogged down because of stronger-than-expected Ukrainian resistance, combined with what Western officials say are Russian tactical missteps, poor morale, shortages of food, fuel and cold weather gear, and other problems. Moscow has used artillery and airstrikes to decimate the cities of Ukraine.

Serhiy Udod, a Ukrainian soldier, stated that Russian troops had taken over defensive positions in Stoyanka village close to Kyiv and suffered heavy losses.

It is likely that the Russians "thought it would look like Crimea," which was annexed by the Kremlin in 2014. It's not the same as in Crimea. They are not welcome here. They suffer and are killed."


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