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Ukraine's foreign minister speaks to reporters

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba holds a press conference after talks with his Russian counterpart on March 10, 2022. (Photo: Orhan Cicek/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ukraine and Russia Fail to Reach Ceasefire Deal as Crisis Worsens

"Russia is not in a position at this point to establish a ceasefire," said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. "They seek a surrender from Ukraine. This is not what they're going to get."

Jake Johnson

This is a developing news story... Check back for possible updates...

Talks between Ukraine and Russia's top diplomats ended Thursday without a ceasefire deal or an agreement to establish a humanitarian corridor allowing civilians to flee the besieged city of Mariupol, where hundreds of thousands of people have been trapped for days in rapidly deteriorating conditions.

Speaking to reporters following the talks, which lasted for about an hour and a half, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he arrived at the meeting in Turkey hoping to leave "with a decision to arrange a humanitarian corridor to and from Mariupol."

"This senseless violence must stop. End the bloodshed now."

"Russia is not in a position at this point to establish a ceasefire," said Kuleba. "They seek a surrender from Ukraine. This is not what they're going to get. Ukraine is strong, Ukraine is fighting."

While lamenting the lack of diplomatic progress, Kuleba said he and Russia's top envoy "agreed to continue efforts to seek a solution to the humanitarian issues on the ground."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for his part, downplayed the significance of the meeting with Kuleba, claiming that "no one was planning to negotiate a ceasefire here" and pointing to ongoing talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials on the border of Belarus.

The Financial Times reported that the two sides on Thursday discussed Russia's demand that Ukraine stay out of NATO and any other bloc.

"Kuleba said he proposed that Ukraine adopt a position of neutrality backed by U.S. and Turkish security guarantees, but the idea was rejected by Lavrov, who said he had no interest in discussing the idea," FT noted.

The high-level meeting came after several days of largely failed attempts to establish and maintain ceasefires to let civilians safely escape major cities as Russia continues its ground and air assault on Ukraine. On Wednesday, Russian forces bombed a maternity and children's hospital in Mariupol, an attack that local officials said killed at least three people, including a child.

According to the Associated Press, Lavrov claimed the hospital had "been seized by Ukrainian far-right radical fighters who were using it as a base." AP reported that Lavrov dismissed concerns about civilian casualties as "pathetic shrieks" and asserted that patients were removed from the hospital prior to Russia's attack, a claim that local Ukrainian officials have said is false.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the regional governor, said Wednesday that maternity ward patients were among the more than a dozen people injured in the Russian strike.

The United Nations said this week that at least 474 civilians, including dozens of children, have been killed since Russia launched its full-scale assault on Ukraine last month. The U.N. Refugee Agency said that as of Tuesday, two million people had fled Ukraine.

"This situation is really apocalyptic for people, it is getting worse, they are running out of essential supplies," Ewan Watson, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), warned earlier this week. "And so, our call today is really for lifesaving aid to reach these people."

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday that "civilians are paying the highest price for a war that has nothing to do with them," pointing specifically to the Russian bombing of the Mariupol hospital.

"This senseless violence must stop," wrote Guterres. "End the bloodshed now."

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