US official: Russia largely stalled in Ukraine
The Russian military was largely stalled in its attempted advance in Ukraine on Monday and made little progress over the weekend, a senior U.S. defense official said.
The official also said the Russians have not taken total control of the airspace. The official said all of the Russian military forces that had been arrayed around the country are now inside, and that the Russians still retain about 90% of their combat capabilities. The official said there are no indications the Russians are trying to bring in reinforcements.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military assessments.
The official also said the U.S. has not done any training of the Ukrainian military in the country since the Florida National Guard forces left as the war was beginning. And the official said a military training base the Russians hit in western Ukraine on Sunday close to the Polish border wasn’t being used as a shipment site for U.S. military supplies to Ukraine.
More attacks on western Ukraine
A Russian rocket attack on a television tower in the western village of Antopol on Monday morning killed nine people, according to the governor of the Rivne region. The village is only about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the border of NATO member Poland.
The attack came just a day after Russian missiles pounded a military training base in western Ukraine, close to the Polish border, killing 35 people. That attack raised fears that NATO could be drawn into direct conflict with Russia.
The base had served previously as a crucial hub for cooperation between Ukraine and NATO.
The senior U.S. defense official said the base was not being used at the time as a shipment site for U.S. military supplies to Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities also said two people died and seven were injured after Russian forces struck an airplane factory in the capital of Kyiv, and that two people were killed in the northern Obolonskyi district of the capital when Russian artillery fire hit a nine-story apartment building. They said a Russian airstrike in the capital’s downtown area Monday killed one person and wounded six others.
The United Nations has recorded at least 596 civilian deaths since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, though it believes the true toll is much higher.
Russia vows attacks on Ukrainian military industry
The Russian military says it will carry out strikes to knock out Ukrainian military industries.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Monday that the Russian forces will “take measures to incapacitate enterprises of Ukraine’s military-industrial complex involved in production and maintenance and repair of weapons.”
He urged workers of those plants and residents of nearby areas to leave “potentially dangerous zones.”
Konashenkov’s statement came hours after Ukrainian authorities said two people were killed when the Russian forces struck the Antonov aircraft-making plant on the outskirts of Kyiv, sparking a large fire.
The Russian military also said that it will continue to target any foreign fighters who have come to Ukraine.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that the Russian forces will show “no mercy for mercenaries wherever they are in the territory of Ukraine.”
Power to Chernobyl site again cut
The Ukrainian state power company says the power line supplying the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster has been damaged by Russian forces again after it was repaired.
The Ukrenergo company said in a statement Monday that its technicians had started to supply power Sunday evening but “before the power supply was fully restored, the occupying forces damaged it again.” Ukrenergo said it will attempt another repair.
The power is used to feed pumps and other equipment which keep spent nuclear fuel at the former power plant cool to prevent radiation leaks.
The Chernobyl site is also equipped with diesel generators, and Belarusian authorities said last week that they had set up an emergency power supply from the nearby border.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has played down concerns over the safety of nuclear waste at Chernobyl, saying that cooling ponds there are large enough to keep the spent fuel in a safe condition even if the power supply is interrupted.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said talks with Russia concluded for the day Monday but will resume on Tuesday.
The negotiations, which took place by video conference, were the fourth round involving higher-level officials from the two countries and the first held in a week. Previous discussions, held in person in Belarus, did not produce lasting humanitarian routes or agreements to end the fighting in Ukraine.
“A technical pause has been taken in the negotiations until tomorrow," Podolyak wrote on Twitter. “Negotiations continue.”
He said earlier that “communication is being held, yet it’s hard.”
Russia denies asking China for help
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday denied media reports alleging that Russia asked China for military assistance to help advance its offensive in Ukraine.
“No, Russia has its own potential to continue the operation, which, as we have said, is unfolding in accordance with the plan and will be completed on time and in full,” Peskov told his daily conference call with reporters.
Peskov also stressed that the operation in Ukraine was going as planned and that the Russian military were ensuring “the maximum security of the civilian population.”
He said that at the “beginning of the operation” that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the military to refrain from “the immediate storming” of large cities including Kyiv because “armed nationalist formations set up firing points, place heavy military equipment directly in residential areas, and fighting in densely populated areas will inevitably lead to multiple casualties among civilians.”
He added that “at the same time, the Defense Ministry, while ensuring the maximum security of the civilian population, does not rule out the possibility of taking full control of large settlements that are now practically surrounded, expect for areas used for humanitarian evacuation.”