Authorities in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv announced a 35-hour curfew beginning Tuesday evening as the city braces for the most intense Russian assault yet, with the mayor warning that “a difficult and dangerous moment” is looming.
“It is prohibited to move around the city without special permission, except to go to bomb shelters,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Tuesday, noting the curfew will begin at 8 pm local time and remain in effect until Thursday morning.
“The capital is the heart of Ukraine, and it will be defended,” the mayor added. “Kyiv, which is currently the symbol and forward operating base of Europe’s freedom and security, will not be given up.”
Klitschko’s remarks came after Ukrainian officials blamed Russian artillery fire and missile strikes for a series of deadly explosions in residential areas of Kyiv early Tuesday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russian strikes hit four multi-story buildings in the capital, killing dozens of people.
The Russian attacks came as the leaders of three European Union countries—Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia—traveled to Kyiv by train to meet with Zelenskyy in a show of support as his country’s military and volunteers attempt to rebuff Russia’s advances toward the capital.
Half of Kyiv’s population, which was roughly 3 million before the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, is believed to have fled the city in recent days. Overall, according to the United Nations, 3 million people have left Ukraine since February 24 to escape Russia’s assault, which has had a devastating impact on civilians.
Russia’s intensifying bombardment of Kyiv came as the latest round of diplomatic talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations kicked off Tuesday, with the two sides expected to continue discussing a possible ceasefire agreement.
Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, predicted late Monday that “no later than in May, early May, we should have a peace agreement, maybe much earlier, we will see.”
“We are at a fork in the road now: there will either be a peace deal struck very quickly, within a week or two, with troop withdrawal and everything, or there will be an attempt to scrape together some, say, Syrians for a round two and, when we grind them too, an agreement by mid-April or late April,” Arestovich said, referring to reports that Moscow is recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine.
In a live address to other European leaders on Tuesday, Zelenskyy said that “we can still stop the Russian war machine.”
“We can still stop the killing of people,” he added. “And it will be easier to do it together.”
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