(CN) — Nineteen days after ordering an invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces continued to appear bogged down in fierce fighting with Ukrainian troops on Monday.
Ceasefire talks also resumed on Monday with the two sides talking via video, but there were no breakthroughs. Negotiations though were set to continue.
Ukraine's leadership is pleading for the West's help to defeat Putin, but so far the United States and its NATO allies remain unwilling to send in troops and airplanes in the defense of Ukraine, but they are supplying Ukraine with weapons.
“To those abroad scared of being ‘dragged into WWIII’. Ukraine fights back successfully. We need you to help us fight,” said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, on Twitter. “Provide us with all necessary weapons. Apply more sanctions on Russia and isolate it fully. Help Ukraine force Putin into failure and you will avert a larger war.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will make similar pleas when he is scheduled to make a speech to Congress on Wednesday via video.
On Sunday, Russia struck a NATO military training center in Yavoriv, a western Ukraine town about 15 miles from the Polish border where foreign volunteers are being prepared to fight. The strike, reportedly carried out by warplanes, killed at least 35 people and wounded 134 others, Ukraine said. About 1,000 foreign volunteers, including Americans, Brits and Danes, were at the center, according to a report from BuzzFeed. The Independent reported that three former British special forces troops were among those killed.
The strike on the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security was yet another signal from the Kremlin that it considers the flow of weapons and volunteer fighters from the West “legitimate” targets. The U.S. and its allies are funneling hundreds of millions of dollars in military support to Ukraine, but getting those supplies into Ukraine is tricky and must be done with stealth.
In another sign that Russia is moving westward in its attacks, a television tower near Rivne was struck on Monday, killing at least nine people and wounding nine others, according to Ukrinform, a Ukrainian state news agency. Rivne is in northwestern Ukraine about 107 miles from Lviv, a western city near the Polish border where the U.S. evacuated its embassy staff ahead of the invasion. Air raid sirens are being heard much more frequently in Lviv.
The risk of the war spilling over into NATO territories is growing. Last Thursday, a Soviet-era drone carrying explosives, apparently belonging to Ukraine’s military, somehow ended up in Croatia and exploded in Zagreb, without causing any injuries. On Monday, Romania reported that another drone, possibly operated by Russia, was found in a field. Croatia and Romania are part of NATO.
The southern port city of Mariupol is the scene of horrific fighting, shelling and a growing humanitarian disaster. Ukraine said more than 2,500 people have been killed in the city over the past two weeks under Russian siege. A pregnant woman inside a Mariupol maternity hospital Russia struck last week died on Monday along with her unborn child, prompting a new wave of international outrage at Putin's brutal invasion.
There were reports that hundreds of civilians were evacuated from Mariupol on Monday, but hundreds of thousands of people remain trapped inside a city without adequate electricity, water, food, medical supplies and other basic necessities.
Mariupol is being held by hardcore Ukrainian forces affiliated with the Azov Battalion and there are reports of intense street fighting. Mariupol is seen as crucial in Russia's plans to develop a land bridge between Crimea, a peninsula it annexed in 2014, and the eastern Ukrainian region known as Donbas. It appears Russia hopes to seize Ukraine's Black Sea territories and cut Ukraine off from international maritime trade.