Antalya (Turkey): Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba met here today to discuss the Russia-Ukraine war, though no agreement was reached to end hostilities. The talks are the highest-level ones so far between Russia and Ukraine since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. According to a statement from Kuleba following the talks, while Lavrov agreed to further liaise with Moscow on humanitarian issues, he reiterated that a ceasefire was only possible once the Kremlin’s demands had been accepted.
Prior to the meeting, Kuleba had admitted that his expectations of the negotiations “are low”. Emerging from the meeting, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister said, “Russia is not in a position at this point to establish a ceasefire. They seek a surrender from Ukraine. This is not what they’re going to get. Ukraine is strong, Ukraine is fighting. Ukraine made Russia’s initial plans fail. We are seeking a diplomatic solution to this war. But we will not surrender.”
In less than two weeks, at least 37 children have been killed and 50 injured, while more than 1 million children have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries.UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell
Meanwhile, the bombing of a maternity hospital by Russian forces in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Wednesday continues to spark international outrage. The maternity and paediatric hospital was severely damaged in a Russian air strike on Mariupol, injuring more than 17 patients, local official Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took to Twitter and shared a video clip showing the terrible destruction at the large medical complex, which also showed blown-out windows and internal walls ripped out. He said the damage had been caused by a “direct strike by Russian troops”, with numerous adults and children being stuck “under the wreckage”.
Immediately after Zelenskyy shared the footage from the bombed out hospital, the global community, from leaders to ordinary netizens, joined forces to sharply criticise the horrifying attack by the Russian army on innocent civilians. “Dear Russian soldiers. ‘We were only following orders’ didn’t work in 1945 and it won’t work in 2022. If you target children in hospital you are committing a war crime. There’s no defense for any of this and you will be tried for it,” a Twitter user wrote.
In an official statement released three days ago when the attack was yet to be confirmed, Catherine Russell, executive director of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), has said, “I am horrified by the reported attack today on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine – an attack which reportedly left young children and women in labor buried beneath the rubble of destroyed buildings. We do not yet know the number of casualties but fear the worst.
“This attack, if confirmed, underscores the horrific toll this war is exacting on Ukraine’s children and families. In less than two weeks, at least 37 children have been killed and 50 injured, while more than 1 million children have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries.”