Ukraine, Russia Agree To Create Humanitarian Corridors But No Breakthrough On Cease-Fire

WATCH: Fires could still be seen smoldering in what used to be a row of high-rise apartment buildings on the main street of Borodyanka on March 3. The small town 50 kilometers northwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, came under Russian air strikes and artillery shelling the previous day. The exact number of victims is not yet known.

Ukraine and Russia have agreed to create humanitarian corridors in areas of Ukraine where fighting is worst, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said after negotiations between the two sides on March 3.

Podolyak said while there was no breakthrough on a cease-fire, negotiators did reach agreement on joint efforts to secure humanitarian corridors for evacuations and the supply of medicine and food to sites “with the most intensive fighting with a possibility of [a temporary] cease-fire in the areas where such evacuations will take place."

Podolyak spoke with journalists after the talks in western Belarus as Russian troops continued their full-scale attack on Ukraine. The negotiators also agreed to meet again, he said.

Ukrainian negotiators said before the talks that they would demand a cease-fire and humanitarian corridors as deaths and destruction mounted eight days after Russia began the unprovoked invasion of its neighbor.

WATCH: Russia is coming to talks with questions it has formulated answers to long ago, said Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The Ukrainian president was speaking to a group of local and international journalists in Kyiv on March 3:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said before that the talks would cover “themes and issues” but not set conditions. There are things on which there can be no compromise, he said, but other things on which “compromises must be found so that people stopped being killed.”

Speaking at a news conference, Zelenskiy also called on the West to increase its military assistance after NATO members ruled out enforcing a no-fly zone for fear of igniting a direct war with nuclear-armed Russia.

"If you do not have the power to close the skies, then give me planes!" Zelenskiy said.

Rusian President Vladimir Putin vowed to press on with the invasion despite a global clamor for an end to hostilities and the damaging effects of sanctions on Russia's economy.

Putin said Russia's military operation was going according to plan and praised its soldiers as heroes. Putin said earlier that Russia intends to continue the fight "against militants of nationalist armed groups," according to a Kremlin account of a call with French President Emmanuel Macron.

WATCH: RFE/RL's Maryan Kushnir witnessed the immediate aftermath of an attack on the town of Borodyanka, northwest of the capital in the Kyiv region:

Zelenskiy earlier urged his countrymen to keep up their resistance despite bombardment and encirclement efforts against major Ukrainian cities.

The appeal came after Russia's all-out invasion entered its second week and a night of Russian shelling of Kyiv and the strategic cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Mariupol. Zelenskiy praised Ukrainian resistance and said, "We have nothing to lose but our own freedom."

Hundreds of Russian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians have been killed since Putin ordered Russian troops to invade on February 24.

WATCH: A retired senior NATO commander says analysts are unsure why exactly Russia's invasion has stalled, but says unexpected "heavy losses" suffered from Ukrainian anti-tank weapons and drones may have played a big role:

More than 1 million people have fled in just seven days, according to the United Nations.

Russian troops reportedly have reached the center of Kherson, which would be the first sizable Ukrainian city occupied by Russian forces since the all-out conflict began. But it was unclear who controlled the Black Sea coastal city, home to nearly 300,000 people.

Kherson's mayor, Ihor Kolykhayev, said late on March 2 that Russian troops were in the streets of that city of nearly 300,000 people and had entered the local council building.

He said he had spoken to the "armed visitors." "I just asked them not to shoot people," he said.

Regional official Hennady Lakhuta was quoted as saying "occupiers" were in "all parts" of Kherson.

A U.K. intelligence update on Ukraine early on March 3 said that while some Russian forces had entered Kherson, the military situation was unclear.

British intelligence concluded that Kharkiv and the cities of Chernihiv and Mariupol remained in Ukrainian hands. But it said Mariupol, a large port city on the Azov Sea, appeared to be encircled by Russian forces, echoing a Russian Defense Ministry claim.

The Ukrainian emergency services said at least 33 bodies had been recovered from rubble in the wake of air strikes in Chernihiv on March 3. The regional governor said two schools as well as private houses were hit.

Ukraine's border authority announced that nearly 14,000 Ukrainians, mostly men, had returned to the country on March 2, an increase of around 2,000 from the previous day.

Ukraine's national emergency service has said more than 2,000 civilians have died, but that figure was impossible to confirm.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova, addressing the UN Human Rights Council on March 3, said that Russian bombings of Ukrainian cities "clearly amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity."

Dzhaparova called for "accountability for war criminals spilling the blood of Ukrainian children."

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on March 3 that an advance team had left The Hague for Ukraine to begin gathering evidence of possible war crimes.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said a day earlier that he had "a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine" and that 39 countries appealed for an investigation of events there.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell sent a message on March 3 demanding that "this war needs to stop now."

"I call for an immediate cease-fire," Borrell wrote on Twitter after visiting a refugee center in the capital of Moldova, which shares a long border with Ukraine. "I call for immediate establishment of humanitarian corridors."

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on France-2 television: "I think it is possible that the worst is ahead of us" in Ukraine. He said France would propose a resolution to the UN Security Council later on March 3 to demand a cease-fire in Ukraine.

But Russia's veto power made progress on such a proposal unlikely.

Major blasts were reported overnight in Kyiv. But the U.K. intelligence report echoed other sources in saying a huge military column extending tens of kilometers north of the capital had made little apparent progress over the past three days.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on March 3 that some of the explosions that rang out over that city overnight were the work of Ukrainian air-defense systems targeting Russian missiles.

He also vowed that heating mains near the main railway station damaged the previous day would be repaired and restored on March 3.

A five-story apartment building in Irpen, a western suburb of the Ukrainian capital, was shelled and suffered significant damage. Witnesses who spoke with an RFE/RL correspondent at the scene said they heard a military plane fly overhead shortly before the explosions.

There were no reports of deaths from the attack, but residents of the building say several people were injured.

"The city authorities continue to ensure the operation of Kyiv's critical infrastructure," Klitschko said.

He urged Kyiv residents to avoid unnecessary travel in and around the capital and reminded them of the nighttime curfew.

Klitschko has warned of "obvious plans" by Russian troops to surround the capital and that they planned to strangle Kyiv with a blockade.

The UN's refugee agency said on March 3 that 1 million people had fled Ukraine in the past seven days to find safety in neighboring countries. Train stations and border checkpoints with Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary were jammed with mostly women and children.

The United Nations plenum approved a nonbinding resolution late on March 2 that "deplores" Russia's "aggression against Ukraine." It was supported by 141 of the assembly's 193 members.

Thirty-five members, including China and Russian allies Iran and Cuba, abstained, and five countries, including Russia, Syria, and Belarus, voted against the resolution.

The U.S. State Department also called on Putin to "immediately cease this bloodshed" and withdraw Russian troops and condemned blocks and threatened blocks on independent news outlets and the authorities' "throttling" of social media.

Protests in Russia against the invasion of Ukraine have incurred mass arrests, and Russian authorities have imposed broad bans on the use of words like "war" or "invasion" to describe events in Ukraine.

International measures to punish Russia's invasion of its neighbor have also continued, including financial bans, sports bans, and businesses ceasing operations in Russia.

The United States announced new sanctions against Russia and the introduction of strict controls on the export of high-tech products to Belarus.

The Washington Post reported that U.S. President Joe Biden's administration had requested $10 billion from Congress to aid Ukraine as U.S. spending talks continue.

Ukrainian Central Bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko said that international financial support so far for Ukraine totaled more than $15 billion.

In the European Union, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban reportedly said his country would not veto another round of EU sanctions against Russia. He said that "unity is paramount" at this point, according to local outlet

Ukrainian former world heavyweight boxing champion Volodymyr Klitschko, brother of the Kyiv mayor, praised the international sports community for its response in "standing together" to pressure Moscow with bans on Russian organizations and participation in major events.

"Ban Russian teams from participating. I have nothing against the athletes, but they are presenting the regime and in some way the connection with this war," Klitschko said.

Later, the International Paralympic Committee announced that athletes from Russia and Belarus, which allowed Russian military staging near the border, will not be able to compete at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing set to begin on March 4.

Russia's Defense Ministry on March 2 gave its first casualty estimates since launching the unprovoked invasion. It said 498 of its soldiers have died since the war started last week, while a spokesman added on Twitter that another 1,597 Russian soldiers had been wounded.

The numbers could not be independently verified. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine, which has said Russia's casualty numbers are close to 6,000.

The Ukrainian military's General Staff said on March 3 that Russia's casualty numbers are around 9,000, another figure that is impossible to verify.

With reporting by Current Time, RFE/RL's Russian Service, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Reuters, BBC, CNN, and AFP

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