By Jack Phillips
Ukrainian forces announced Tuesday they reclaimed control over a suburb of Kyiv from Russian forces, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated that he is seeking direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Defense Ministry said Ukraine’s military pushed Russians from Makariv, allowing the Ukrainians to retake control of a key highway and block Russian troops from encircling Kyiv.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine told the Kyiv Independent that “the Ukrainian flag was raised over the town of Makariv,” located 30 miles from Kyiv, and Russian forces were pushed back.
Still, the ministry said, Russian forces were able to take control of several other Kyiv suburbs including Bucha, Hostomel, and Irpin, according to The Associated Press.
The claims have not been confirmed by U.S. or NATO officials. Russian officials also have not issued any public comments on Ukraine’s claims.
Zelensky told European public television networks such a meeting could discuss the future of occupied Ukrainian territory, but more time would be required to resolve the issue. He also repeated his acknowledgment made earlier this month that Ukraine could not now secure NATO membership.
“I believe that until such time as we have a meeting with the president of the Russian Federation…you cannot truly understand what they are prepared to do in order to stop the war and what they are prepared to do if we are not ready for this or that compromise,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky also suggested his government would be open to future talks on the status of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, as well as areas in the Donbas region held by Russia-backed separatists.
“If people are trying to stop a war, there is a cease-fire, and troops are withdrawn. The presidents meet, reach an agreement on withdrawing troops and there are security guarantees of one sort or another,” Zelensky added. “Compromises must be found, one way or another of guaranteeing our security.”
An assessment provided Monday by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense noted that as heavy fighting continues north of Kyiv, “Russian forces advancing on the city from the northeast have stalled.”
Russian troops advancing from Hostomel to the northwest have been “repulsed by fierce Ukrainian resistance” and said that “the bulk” of Russian forces were over 16 miles from the city center.
Kyiv is now under a curfew announced by the city’s mayor, former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, on Monday. Klitschko wrote on Telegram that the curfew would start Monday at 8:00 p.m. local time and last until 7:00 a.m. Wednesday.
“Shops, pharmacies, gas stations, institutions will not work tomorrow,” he said. “Therefore, I ask everyone to stay at home or in shelters … at sound of an alarm. Only those with special permits will be able to move around the city.”
Since the start of the conflict on Feb. 24, Ukraine has accused Russia of committing war crimes by targeting civilians. Russia says its armed forces are only targeting military infrastructure and troops, accusing Ukrainian troops of hiding inside residential and business areas.
Reuters contributed to this report.