KIU, Ukraine – Russia is relentless bombing of Ukraine was approaching the center of Kiev when a series of strikes struck a residential area on Tuesday, while leaders of the three European Union countries planned a bold visit to the Ukrainian capital, and the number of people expelled from the country by the war exceeded 3 million.

Shortly before dawn, big explosions erupted in Kiev according to Ukrainian authorities, these were artillery strikes. The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that the shelling fell on four high-rise buildings in the city and killed people.

The strikes were in the western part of Kyiv, disrupting the relative calm that returned after the initial offensive by Russian troops was halted in the early days of the war. The shelling on Tuesday caused a huge fire in a 15-story apartment building and prompted insane rescue operations.

As Russia stepped up its offensive on Kyiv, the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia announced they would head to the fighting capital of Ukraine on Tuesday to show support for the country.

“The purpose of the visit is to express unequivocal support for Ukraine and its freedom and independence by the European Union,” Czech Prime Minister Piotr Fialo said on Twitter.

He will be joined by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Jaroslav Kaczynski, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister for Security and leader of the Conservative ruling party.

Leaders of 27 EU countries were “informed” about the trip, but did not authorize it, officials said. An EU spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the trip, said European Council President Charles Michel “pointed out the security risks” of the event.

The International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday the number of people fleeing Ukraine after Russia’s invasion on February 24 exceeded 3 million. The UN has called the flow of people crossing Poland and other neighboring countries the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators also planned to hold a second day of talks as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its 20th day. The Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees say millions of people are short of food and medicine immediate threats of conflict shelling and air strikes.

The Ukrainian government said that on Tuesday, new measures will be taken to provide assistance and evacuation along nine corridors across the country, including the Kiev region. But past evacuation attempts have repeatedly failed amid prolonged fighting.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said that an evacuation involving 30 buses is planned from Sumy in northeastern Ukraine. The organization said it had not yet received aid from Mariupol, a besieged port of 430,000 people, which local authorities estimate killed more than 2,300 and killed residents in desperate need of food, water, heat and medicine. .

The Russian invasion shocked the world, disrupted security in post-Cold War Europe and expelled millions from their homes. The Russian military is larger and better equipped than the Ukrainian, but its troops have faced tougher-than-expected resistance, backed by Western-supplied weapons.

When Russia started the war three weeks ago, the Ukrainian capital was gripped by fear of imminent invasion, and residents slept at subway stations or crammed into trains to escape. But as the Russian offensive loomed, Kyiv saw a relative lull.

In recent days, fighting has intensified on the outskirts of the city, and occasional sirens of air raids are heard around the capital.

Artillery strikes early in the morning inflicted on the Sviatoshynskyi district in western Kyiv, adjacent to the suburbs of Irpen, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.

Flames erupted from a 15-story apartment building, and smoke muffled the air as firefighters climbed stairs to rescue people. As a result of the assault, several floors of the building were blackened, a hole in the ground was torn out and windows in neighboring apartment buildings were smashed.

Rescuers said one person was killed, several were rescued but others remained inside.

“Yesterday we put out one fire, today another, it’s very difficult,” said one young firefighter, resting near the building, with tears in his eyes.

“People are dying, and the worst thing is that children are dying. They have not lived their lives and they have already seen it, it is the worst, ”said the rescuer, who gave only his name – Andrei.

The shockwaves from the blast also damaged the entrance to a downtown subway station that was used as a bomb shelter. City officials posted a picture of the blown-up facade on Twitter, saying trains would no longer stop at the station.

A 10-storey residential building in the Podolsk district of Kyiv, north of the government quarter, was damaged by unidentified munitions. Russian forces also intensified attacks on Irpen and the northwestern Kiev suburbs of Gastomel and Bucha at night, said the head of the capital region Alexei Kuleba.

“Many streets (in these areas) have been turned into a slurry of steel and concrete. People have been hiding in basements for weeks and are afraid to even evacuate, ”Kuleba said on Ukrainian television.

In the east of the country, Russian forces struck more than 60 strikes on the second largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv, said the head of the regional administration Oleg Sinegubov. The strikes have damaged the historic city center, including the main market.

“Fires are raging in the city, and there are not enough firefighters,” Sinegubov said.

Rescuers pulled “dozens of bodies of civilians” from the ruins of destroyed apartment buildings, he said on Ukrainian television.

Zelensky seeks to extend martial law until April 24 and demand that men between the ages of 18 and 60 remain in the country to fight. Zelensky has extended the bill to parliament, which is expected to vote this week.

Negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators were due to resume on Tuesday after failing to break through or fail on Monday. The parties expressed some optimism about the talks, which, according to Aide to the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podalak, will discuss “peace, a ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops and security guarantees.”

U.S. officials have said Russian troops have not advanced on the ground in recent days and as of Monday are still about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from downtown Kiev. The Pentagon said Russian forces had launched more than 900 missiles but had not taken control of the air over Ukraine.

This was stated by representatives of the US administration Russia asked China for help, and Beijing has signaled to Moscow that it will be ready to provide both military and financial support to help prevent the effects of Western sanctions.

The Kremlin has denied China’s request to use military equipment in Ukraine, while China has denied aid to Moscow.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said Beijing’s position was “completely objective, impartial and constructive” and aimed at ending the conflict.

With each passing day, human prices for a difficult war continue to rise. The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office has released details of two deadly attacks by Russians on Monday: an artillery strike on a university and an open market in Chernihiv in northern Chernihiv, killing 10 people and shooting a 65-year-old woman. in a bus that evacuated civilians from the suburbs of Kiev.

As a result of the Russian air strike near the Ukrainian checkpoint, great damage was inflicted in the center of Kiev, killing one person, the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Agency reported.

The death toll from a rocket attack on a Russian TV tower in western Ukraine rose to 19 on Monday, Rivne Oblast authorities said on Tuesday. Nine more people were injured in an attack on a TV tower in Antopal, a village about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Poland’s NATO border.

Meanwhile, the Russian military said 20 civilians in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine had been killed by a ballistic missile fired by Ukrainian forces. An independent verification of the claim failed.

In Russia, a woman who went to the studio with a poster against the war interrupted the main evening news program on state television. The OVD-Info website, which monitors political arrests, called her a Channel One employee and said she had been taken into custody.

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