Russia has been accused of refusing to stop its attack on Ukraine to allow aid to get in and civilians to escape.
Moscow’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov met his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Turkey in the highest-level talks since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion on 24 February.
And following the meeting Mr Kuleba said there was no sign of any agreement and that Russia was insisting its operation was going to plan, repeating a claim that Ukraine was a threat to its national security.
Ukraine war latest – ‘Notable decrease’ in Russian air activity
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War in Ukraine: Day fifteen
This claim – disputed by Kyiv and the West – was made by the Russian president when he ordered the invasion.
And in the 15 days since, Moscow has insisted it did not invade Ukraine and that civilians were not being targeted by its troops – despite reports of thousands having been killed.
Mr Putin has called the offensive a “special military operation” in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
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Following the talks, Sky’s Dominic Waghorn asked Mr Lavrov why Ukraine, and the rest of the world, could believe what Russia was saying amid these seemingly false statements.
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“Until the last moment we wanted to resolve the matter in a diplomatic way,” he said.
“Putin explained very clearly why he chose to make that decision to conduct a special military operation and even if you’re not allowed to talk to your listeners about this you could yourself read this document and it will explain.”
Mr Lavrov insisted the West had agreed that “Ukraine is ours”.
Image: Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman the hospital in Mariupol. Pic: AP
Following Wednesday’s attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it had confirmed 18 strikes on medical facilities during the war.
But Mr Lavrov dismissed concerns about Russian military attacks on civilians as “pathetic shrieks” from its enemies.
He claimed the site had earlier been seized by Ukrainian far-right radical fighters who were using it as a base.
Even though there were many images of civilians wounded in the attack, Mr Lavrov claimed all the patients and nurses were moved out of the hospital before the assault.
That came just hours after another official denied Russia bombed the hospital, describing such claims as “fake news”.
Image: Screenshot of a tweet from the Russian Embassy in the UK about the attack on the maternity hospital in Mariupol
He also claimed the US is developing biological weapons in Ukraine.
US press secretary Jen Psaki called the claim “preposterous” and said it could be part of an attempt by Moscow to pre-emptively justify its own use of such weapons of mass destruction against Ukraine.
Of Thursday’s talks, Mr Kuleba said there are “other decision-makers” in Russia who need to be consulted, adding that he agreed with Mr Lavrov to continue to seek a solution to humanitarian issues caused by the war.
Image: Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba met in Antalya, Turkey
He said Moscow is not ready to offer a ceasefire, adding: “They seek Ukraine’s surrender. This is not going to happen.”
Mr Kuleba said “the last thing” he wanted was to kill hope for Ukrainians seeking safe passage out of cities besieged by Russian bombardments and attacks.
Source : Sky News