(CN) — Russia's onslaught in Ukraine entered its eighth day on Thursday and saw no letup in Moscow's bombing of cities as intense fighting was reported across much of the eastern half of the country and in its southern territories on the Black Sea.
For the past two days, Russia has intensified its bombing of Ukrainian cities with artillery and warplanes, killing ever more civilians and Ukrainian forces. Ukraine’s emergency services says more than 2,000 civilians have been killed.
Thursday saw more devastating and sickening images of bombs raining down on Ukraine and causing widespread destruction as Russia tries to pummel Kyiv into submission and surrender.
A huge military convoy moving on Kyiv, the capital of 3 million people, remained positioned outside the city but it has not moved into the urban center and Russian forces have failed to encircle the city as they encounter heavy resistance, according to an analysis from the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank. Experts believe the convoy was slowed by the need to refuel and resupply. The Study of War Institute said it appeared Russia was moving more troops from the Pacific Ocean toward Ukraine, an indication that the invasion is not going well for Moscow.
A glimmer of hope for a ceasefire opened as delegations from both sides sat down for a second round of talks at a site along the Polish and Belarusian borders. Afterwards, representatives said a ceasefire may be possible to allow for humanitarian corridors. Still, the prospects for ending the war through diplomacy appear slim.
Also Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin as the “only way to stop the war.” Zelenskyy has given daily speeches from an undisclosed bunker, likely inside Kyiv.
“We are not attacking Russia and we do not plan to attack it. What do you want from us? Leave our land,” Zelenskyy said.
He said he must sit down with Putin to end the war, though he added he did not want to speak with Putin at an enormously long table the Kremlin leader has used for discussions with other leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron.
“Sit down with me. Just not 30 meters away,” Zelenskyy said.
Despite his call for direct talks, the Ukrainian president persisted to call on Ukrainians to fight and he pleaded with the West for more military aid and to reconsider enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a step NATO has refused to do because that could draw the West into war with Russia.
“If you do not have the power to close the skies, then give me planes,” he said. “If we are no more, then God forbid, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia will be next. Believe me.”
There is no indication that Russia plans to invade other countries, at least not at this point. But Ukraine’s westward move and NATO’s eagerness to include it into the anti-Russian military alliance has been a source of deep frustration and anger inside the Kremlin. Putin has for years warned the West against making Ukraine a NATO member.
In December, Putin called Ukraine’s membership in NATO a “red line,” but despite such heated language the United States and its allies stepped up arms shipments and rhetoric about Kyiv joining the alliance.
Just days before the Feb. 24 invasion, Zelenskyy said at the Munich Security Conference that Ukraine might reconsider its decision in 1994 to remove nuclear weapons from its territory. Belarus and Kazakhstan signed onto the same agreement in 1994 to de-nuclearize.