US VP says ‘everything is on the table’ as US continues to assess Russia sanctions

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It is just 3 p.m. in Kyiv and fierce battles are taking place between Ukrainian and Russian forces all over Ukraine.

Here’s what you need to know:

Talks continue: A second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine is expected to take place today, according to a Ukrainian presidential aide.

Monday’s first round of talks lasted five hours and ended without a breakthrough.

‘The real test’: US President Joe Biden has used his annual State of the Union address to show his determination to show that Western democracies have strong support for Ukraine, which Russia invaded last week.

“Throughout our history, we’ve learned this lesson: When dictators don’t pay the price for their aggression, they cause more chaos. They keep pushing forward,” Biden said.

Yet Biden made it clear that no American troops would be deployed to fight alongside the Ukrainians, but instead the West would use sanctions and economic measures to, as he put it, continue “to inflict pain.” pain to Russia and to support the Ukrainian people”.

Biden also said the United States would stand firmly in defense of its NATO allies, including those in Eastern Europe who fear, like Ukraine, that they might one day be the target of Russian aggression.

The struggle for key cities: The Russian army seems to be advancing steadily towards the main cities in the south. The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces now fully hold Kherson, although Ukrainian authorities have denied this, saying “some parts are under our control”.

Fighting is also continuing in the nearby town of Mariupol, where heavy shelling has injured dozens, its mayor said. Russian troops and Russian-backed separatists surrounded the city on three sides. The Kremlin hopes to take Mariupol to complete a land corridor that would connect Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014 from Ukraine, with southern Russia.

Kharkiv clubbed: Russian artillery and missile strikes also hit Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second most populous city. Videos posted on social media and confirmed by CNN showed extensive destruction in the city in northeastern Ukraine. A strike hit an apartment complex near a hospital on Tuesday, while the Kharkiv regional police department and Kharkiv National University were hit on Wednesday morning.

Ukrainian authorities said the “massive” shelling continued on Wednesday.

Targets in Kyiv: Russian forces fired rockets near a TV tower in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday, hours after warning of “high precision” strikes on other facilities linked to Ukrainian security agencies. The rocket attack destroyed broadcasting equipment, raising fears that Russia is trying to destroy the city’s communications infrastructure.

The UN has said that at least 136 people, including 13 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Thursday February 24, although these figures likely underestimate the true toll.

Zelensky said that in six days nearly 6,000 Russian soldiers were killed. The Kremlin has not publicly shared any toll.

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