Russian Forces Advance on Kiev Ahead of Peace Talks

Russian Forces Advance on Kiev Ahead of Peace Talks

As Russian forces inch closer to Kiev, the warring sides hold a new round of peace talks.

The Russian military launched a renewed wave of airstrikes in the Kiev region on Monday morning, killing at least two and injuring several more. The steady cadence of shelling and airstrikes was accompanied by the creeping advance of local Russian forces, who are now reportedly only nine miles away from Ukraine’s capital city.

It was revealed over the weekend that the infamous forty-mile-long Russian convoy near Kiev was dispersed and redeployed. According to satellite imaging, elements of the convoy appear to have repositioned in towns and forest areas outside the city. It remains unclear what purpose the convoy—reportedly stalled for days by logistics issues and intermittent Ukrainian attacks—was originally intended to serve.

Ukraine’s armed forces said in an earlier statement that the invading Russian forces have been trying to gain a foothold in the Kiev suburbs of Irpin and Bucha, part of an apparent effort to position themselves for an all-out assault on the city.

Russia and Ukraine are expected to hold a fourth round of peace talks on Monday. Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and one of the participants in the talks, said Ukraine’s objectives are to secure a cease-fire, the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, and “security guarantees.” The scope of these security guarantees, and the degree to which Kiev is prepared to offer significant political concessions, remains unclear. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier in March that Moscow will forge ahead with its “special military operation” to “demilitarize and de-Nazify” Ukraine in tandem with any potential peace talks.

As the invading Russian forces close in on Kiev, the Russian military is stepping up its bombing campaign in Ukraine’s western regions. Swarms of Russian cruise missiles pounded the sprawling Yavoriv military facility some fifteen miles away from the Polish border on Sunday, reportedly killing thirty-five people and wounding another 134. Russian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov claimed that the strike killed 180 “foreign mercenaries” and destroyed a large shipment of western arms. However, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has denied these claims, telling CNN that no foreigners have been confirmed to be among those killed by the attack. Yavoriv appears to be the westernmost target struck by the Russian military since the invasion of Ukraine commenced on February 24.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced earlier on Monday that Zelenskyy is set to virtually address Congress on Wednesday.

Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.

Image: Reuters.