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Zelenskyy Calls For ‘Urgent Peace Talks’ to Save Battered Mariupol and Other Targets

Zelenskyy Calls For ‘Urgent Peace Talks’ to Save Battered Mariupol and Other Targets

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made an urgent plea for “meaningful and fair” peace talks over Vladimir Putin’s invasion amid further attacks.  In a video address early on Saturday, Zelenskyy, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, said of Putin: “It’s time to meet. Time to talk. It is time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be so huge that several generations will not be enough to rebound. The war must end,” Zelenskyy added. “Ukraine’s proposals are on the table.”

Hours after Zelenskyy’s call for talks, the Kremlin announced it had used a hypersonic weapon for the first time, destroying an underground military depot in western Ukraine. Hypersonic missiles are fast enough that they can evade detection by missile defense systems.

A safety corridor was to have been agreed to with Russia for the besieged city of Mariupol, although the authorities’ previous efforts to evacuate civilians there under a temporary ceasefire have mostly failed, with both sides blaming each other. Several similar corridors were also said to have been agreed upon in Kyiv and in the self-proclaimed republic in Luhansk. However, aid agencies were still being prevented from reaching people trapped in Ukrainian cities surrounded by Russian forces, the UN’s World Food Program warned.

Zelenskyy accused Russian forces of creating a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Mariupol by deliberately blocking supplies from reaching the city in a bid to force residents to comply with their attackers. Calling the move a war crime, the president said Russian soldiers would face a “one-way compulsory ticket to The Hague”, where the international criminal court sits.

More than 350,000 civilians have been stranded with little food or water in Mariupol, which was under constant bombardment on Friday. Russia said its forces were “tightening the noose” around the city, where an estimated 80% of the city’s homes have been damaged.

About 9,000 people have managed to flee Mariupol while work continues to reach the hundreds of civilians believed to be trapped in a shelter under the city’s theater, which was destroyed by the Russian bombings on Wednesday. About 130 people have been rescued from the rubble, some seriously injured.

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