Blinken briefly crosses into Ukraine on a visit to Poland

Source:  David R. Sands 

David R. Sands – The Washington Times – Saturday, March 5, 2022

Russian and Ukrainian officials will meet for the third round of direct talks Monday to discuss a possible cease-fire in the 10-day-old war launched by the Kremlin.

The push for a cease-fire suffered a major blow Saturday as plans for a “humanitarian corridor” to allow Ukrainian citizens to leave the besieged cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha in the south were put on hold because of continued Russian shelling in the area.

But David Arakhamia, a leading member of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party who took part in the previous face-to-face talks, said on Facebook Saturday that there will be a third round of talks Monday.

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Separately, Secretary of State Antony Blinken crossed briefly over the Polish border into western Ukraine Saturday in a show of solidarity with Kyiv. Mr. Blinken had been in Poland as part of an eastern European swing to talk to officials and observe conditions for the 1.5 million-plus Ukrainians who have fled to neighboring countries since the fighting broke out.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba who escorted Mr. Blinken across the border echoed Mr. Zelenskyy in pressing the U.S. and its NATO allies to help desperate Ukrainian forces trying to ward off a larger and better armed Russian invading army.

Ukraine will win this war anyway because this is the people’s war for their land,” Mr. Kuleba said, according to an account by the Agence France-Presse news service. ” … The question is the price.”

Mr. Blinken added that “the entire world stands with Ukraine, just as I am standing here in Ukraine with my friend, my colleague.”  Previous Russian-Ukrainian negotiating sessions have been held on the Belarus border. There was no immediate confirmation from the Kremlin, which so far has sent only mid-level officials to represent Russia in the talks.

Despite facing tougher-than-expected resistance, Russian forces continue to press forward against Kyiv, Kharkiv, and other major Ukrainian cities. Cities like Mariupol on Ukraine‘s southern coast have been under particular pressure.