No progress in Ukraine-Russia talks; Moscow claims hospital bombing was staged propaganda

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


Russia rejected Ukraine’s offer of neutrality in the highest-level talks to date between the two countries Thursday. Under the neutrality proposal, Ukraine would retain its sovereignty and right to arms but would agree not to join any military alliances. The deal would have also given Russia security guarantees from world powers. The Kremlin, however, said they won’t back down until Ukraine is “demilitarized” and its government is toppled, according to a Fox News report

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Turkish coastal city of Antalya in the talks which lasted 90-minutes. The two sides also discussed a 24-hour ceasefire without coming to an agreement. Following the meeting Kuleba said that Russia is still seeking “surrender from Ukraine.” 

“This is not what they are going to get,” Kuleba said, while adding that he was willing to continue the dialogue.

Moscow says maternity hospital bombing was ‘faked’ by Ukraine

The Kremlin tried to spin a horrific bombing of a maternity hospital by Russian forces in the besieged port city of Mariupol Wednesday. The bombing caused outrage and condemnation across the globe. The European Commission called the brutality “inhumane, cruel and tragic.” 

In the wake of the attack, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy renewed his pleas for NATO to establish a no-fly zone during a Sky News interview, saying the Russians “want us to feel like animals” and have blocked access to food and water.

Moscow attempted to downplay the bombing with messaging that was both inconsistent and, at times, bizarre. Responding to a request for comment from Reuters Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that the attack occurred, saying “Russian forces do not fire on civilian targets.” On Thursday, he said the Russian government would look into the incident.

“We will definitely ask our military, because you and I don’t have clear information about what happened there,” Peskov told reporters. “And the military are very likely to provide some information.”

Other Russian officials referred to the attack as “fake news,” with foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova even calling the reports “information terrorism.” The Defense Ministry later accused Ukraine of staging the atrocity and claimed that, at the time the incident was said to have taken place, Russian forces were honoring a temporary ceasefire to allow civilians to evacuate.

The Russian Embassy in Britain falsely claimed that the hospital was not in use and had been taken over by the “neo-Nazi Azov Battalion” in a tweet, according to the New York Post. Twitter has since removed the post. The embassy also claimed that now widely-circulated images of two pregnant Ukrainian women emerging from the explosion’s aftermath were actually staged “propaganda” photos, with both victims being portrayed by a beauty blogger. The tweet included an image of one of the victims standing amongst the rubble with blood on her face alongside a phot of Instagram influencer Marianna Podgurskaya.

Kuleba responded with an assertion that the Kremlin’s leadership “live in their own reality.” 

Russian broadens attacks to three more cities; continues bombardment of Mariupol

Meanwhile, Russian forces continued their merciless bombardment of Mariupol Thursday night, where residents have been without food, water, medicine and electricity for days amid near-freezing temperatures. 

“They have a clear order to hold Mariupol hostage, to mock it, to constantly bomb and shell it,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation Thursday. He also revealed that Russian forces had once again attacked a designated humanitarian corridor, this time launching a tank attack on the area. 

Ukrainian state officials on Wednesday said that at least 1,700 citizens have been killed in Mariupol alone, with multiple news outlets showing unthinkable images of city officials and Ukrainian soldiers rolling bodies into mass graves. Ukraine has said that at least 78 children have died as a result of Russia’s attacks.

In two new developments, Kremlin forces launched offensives on the cities of Lutsk in the northwestern part of the country, near the Polish border, Ivano-Frankivsk in the west, and Dnipro, a major stronghold in the central-east.

Satellite imagery also appears to show that a massive convoy outside Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv has broken up and repositioned itself, spreading out into nearby towns and forests with artillery pieces positioned to fire directly into the city.

West moves to remove Russia from ‘most favored nation’ trade status

At home, President Biden is expected to announce today that the U.S., European Union, and G7 leading industrialized nations will revoke Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status. The move would allow tariffs to be imposed on Russian imports and further isolate the Russian economy.