Zelenskiy says peace talks collapsing, eastern battle rages

STORY: Children and the elderly packed into an evacuation bus in the eastern Ukrainian town of Lyman on Friday as Russia stepped up its assault in the east of the country.

Ukraine acknowledged it was taking heavy losses in the continued attack, but said Russia’s were even worse – as U.S. lawmakers pledged to move fast on a plan to send as much as $33 billion to help Kyiv continue fighting, a dramatic increase in involvement.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres left the Ukrainian capital Friday morning, just a day after two long-range missiles hit a residential area in the northern city, reducing buildings to rubble and killing a journalist from the U.S.-backed broadcaster Radio Liberty.

A video Vira Hyrych posted in March shows her on the streets in Kyiv, describing the situation.

“Now it's almost completely empty. Most people have moved out. Those who were unable to leave are hiding in cellars.”

Though Russia is now concentrated on the two eastern provinces known as the Donbas after having failed to take the capital, Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko reminded people at a media event Friday that the city is still a target.

"Kyiv is still a dangerous place and Kyiv is still the target of Russians, of course. The capital of Ukraine is the goal and they want to occupy it.”

The bloodiest fighting and worst humanitarian catastrophe of the war have been in Mariupol, an eastern port reduced to a wasteland by two months of Russian bombardment and siege.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised Biden's offer of help, which amounts to nearly 10 times the aid Washington has sent so far.

Zelenskiy also expressed pessimism over the prospect of continued peace talks, blaming public anger over what he said were atrocities committed by Russian troops.

Russia began in late February what it calls its “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

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