Zelenskyy says Ukraine still in daily talks with Russia; US journalist killed by Russian gunfire: March 13 recap

Editor's note: This page recaps the news from Ukraine on Sunday, March 13. Follow here for the latest updates and news from Monday, March 14, as Russia's invasion continues.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he will continue negotiating with Russia and is waiting for a meeting with its leader, Vladimir Putin despite repeated escalated attacks by Russia in Ukraine.

So far, Zelenskyy's requests have gone unanswered by the Kremlin. During his nightly address to his nation, Zelenskyy said Sunday that his delegation has a “clear task” to do everything to ensure a meeting between the two presidents, the Associated Press reports.

Zelenskyy said there are daily discussions between the two countries via video conference. He said the talks are necessary to establish a cease-fire and more humanitarian corridors. He said those corridors have saved more than 130,000 people in six days.

The humanitarian convoy to the besieged city of Mariupol was blocked Sunday by Russian forces. Zelenskyy said they would try again Monday.

Dmitry Peskov, Russia's negotiator and President Vladimir Putin's press secretary, confirmed the daily talks, the BBC reports.

In a video posted on social media and in a subsequent tweet, Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukraine's negotiator and a Zelenskyy adviser, said Russia was beginning to engage constructively.

"Russia now much more adequately perceives the world around it," Podolyak said. "It is much more sensitive to the position of Ukraine, which has been proven in battlefields, and in Ukraine's actions in terms of protecting its interests."

►'MASS CASUALTY SITUATION': Downtown Kyiv hospital braces for carnage doctors fear will come

►'WORSE THAN HELL': Mariupol mother fears for her daughter as Russia lays siege to the Ukrainian city

Latest developments:

►White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan will meet with senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday. China has called for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine but has rejected sanctions against Russia.

►Russia has opened 14 recruitment centers in Syria and will pay mercenaries up to $600 per month to fight in Ukraine, the Ukraine military said.

►Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to create “pseudo-republics” to break his country apart. He urged Ukraine’s regions not to follow the path of two eastern areas – Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic – where pro-Russian separatists clashed with Ukrainian forces in 2014.

►An estimated 1,300 Ukrainian troops have been killed since Russia began its invasion, according to Zelenskyy, who claims 12,000 Russian forces have been killed.

►Kyiv is preparing for a possible blockade by stockpiling humanitarian supplies to support the city's residents, city officials said Sunday.

►Almost 2.7 million Ukrainians have fled the country, the U.N. refugee agency said.

Tens of thousands Europeans protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Europe saw tens of thousands of people rallying Sunday in protest of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In Milan, Italy’s financial capital, protesters held bloodied cloth bundles to represent Ukrainian children killed in Russian attacks. Germans carried flags in the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine during protest in Berlin spurred by trade workers.

Anti-war protests were also staged in Warsaw, London and the German cities of Frankfurt, Hamburg and Stuttgart. Small vigils took place in Russia as well, despite a crackdown by authorities against demonstrations.

Russian protests against the war in Ukraine have been typically met with a heavy police response. Rights group OVD-Info said more than 668 people had been detained in 36 cities as of late afternoon Sunday Moscow time.

The number of Russians protesting nationwide appeared to have shrunk significantly from major protests a week ago when OVD-Info said over 5,000 people were detained.

Biden talks to Macron about the Russian invasion of Ukraine

President Joe Biden spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron Sunday about efforts to reach a ceasefire and ongoing negotiations with Russia.

In Biden's call Macron, the two talked about "reviewed recent diplomatic engagements and underscored their commitment to hold Russia accountable for its actions and to support the government and people of Ukraine," according to a White House readout of the call, CNN reports.

In a separate call, Macron also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a French source familiar with the chat said Macron "reviewed the situation with him. He expressed his full support and detailed the additional aid that the European Union decided to provide at the Versailles Summit. They exchanged views on the continuation of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine," CNN also reported.

The two leaders are expected to talk again later this week.

The talks come a day after he and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin urging an immediate ceasefire and a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

'Russian TV channels' will begin broadcasting soon, says new mayor of Russian-occupied Ukrainian city

The newly installed mayor in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city Melitopol said "Russian TV channels" would be broadcasting in the region soon.

Galina Danilchenko said in a televised video Sunday claimed there was "a great deficit of trustworthy information being circulated," as the decision for the broadcasting, according to CNN.

Her televised address was later posted on social media by pro-Russian Telegram channels and by the Ukrainian-controlled Zaporozhye regional administration.

Danilchenko was installed as mayor after elected mayor Ivan Fedorov was detained by armed men on Friday. The prosecutor's office for the Russian-backed separatist region of Luhansk later accused Fedorov of terrorism offenses.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for Federov's immediate release, saying his "abduction" was a "crime against democracy."

US officials say Russia asked China for aid, US and China set to meet Monday

Russia asked China for economic and military aid for the war in Ukraine after President Putin began his invasion last month, U.S. officials told The New York Times and the Washington Post.

China has called for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine, but has rejected sanctions against Russia. The relationship between the two countries has grown over the past few decades, and both have opposed a further expansion of NATO.

The developments comes as Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, is scheduled to meet on Monday with senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi in Rome.

“We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them,” Sullivan told CNN on Sunday.

“We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country, anywhere in the world,” he added.

US journalist killed in Ukraine by Russian soldiers

American photojournalist Brent Renaud was killed Sunday in Ukraine when Russian soldiers opened fire on a car in Irpin, a town 30 miles outside the capital of Kyiv.

A second American journalist, Juan Arredondo was rushed to a hospital with shrapnel wounds, police said.

Arredondo, 46, told Italian journalist Annalisa Camilli in an interview from a hospital that the two men were filming refugees fleeing the area when their car rolled up to a checkpoint and the Russians began shooting. He said Renaud was shot in the neck.

Renaud, 50, and his brother Craig frequently collaborated on film and television projects. They covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the earthquake in Haiti, political turmoil in Egypt and Libya, extremism in Africa, cartel violence in Mexico, and the youth refugee crisis in Central America, according to their website.

Renaud was working on a project in Ukraine focused on the global refugee crisis for TIME Studios, the company said in a statement Sunday afternoon.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS News that the U.S. government would consult with Ukraine to determine what happened and would then “execute appropriate consequences.”

Airstrike near Polish border kills at least 35

A Russian airstrike on a military training base in western Ukraine killed at least 35 people and wounded 134, a local official said. The assault brought the war to within 25 miles of the border with Poland after a senior Russian diplomat warned that Moscow considered foreign shipments of military equipment to Ukraine “legitimate targets.”

The United States and NATO have regularly sent instructors to the range, also known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, to train Ukrainian military personnel. The facility has also hosted international NATO drills. Just weeks before the war began, Florida National Guard members trained there.

The base has become a crucial logistics hub and training center since Russia’s invasion began, The New York Times reported. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told ABC News that U.S. military personnel had left the training facility weeks ago and were not present during the airstrike. It was not immediately revealed whether any foreign fighters were at the center.

The governor of the Lviv region, Maksym Kozytskyi, said Russian forces fired more than 30 cruise missiles at the Yavoriv military range, located about 20 miles northwest of the city of Lviv.

Pope rails against 'barbarism' of Russian siege

Pope Francis urged Russia to stop the massacre in Ukraine by allowing safe passage out of cities under siege and making a serious effort to bring peace at the negotiating table. Mariupol in particular is being "martyred by the ruinous war" raged by Russia against Ukraine, he said. He implored leaders to "listen to the cry of those who suffer" and end the bombings.

"Faced with the barbarism of the killing of children, and of innocent and defenseless citizens, there are no strategic reasons that hold up," Francis said. "The only thing to be done is to cease the unacceptable armed aggression before the city is reduced to a cemetery."

Russia could be preparing to use chemical weapons

Russia could be preparing to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, an act that would draw a "severe price," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Sunday.

Sullivan told CBS News that Russian rhetoric is increasingly claiming the Ukrainians and Americans will potentially use chemical or biological weapons "and that's an indicator that, in fact, the Russians are getting ready to do it, and try and pin the blame elsewhere and nobody should fall for that."

Asked what consequences would result, he said he would not go beyond what President Joe Biden indicated on Friday: "They will pay a severe price."

"We have communicated that directly to the Russians," he said on NBC News' "Meet the Press."

Russian yachts being seized across Europe

Russian yacht owners are encountering rough seas around the world as nations sympathetic to Ukraine's plight press sanctions that include impounding assets of Russia's wealthy class. World leaders hope harsh economic sanctions that target Vladimir Putin's inner circle of oligarchs could apply pressure on the Russian president to end his brutal military assault on Ukraine. Italy announced Saturday that it had seized a $580 million superyacht linked to Russian energy and fertilizer magnate Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko. Several other yachts have been seized in recent weeks in Italy, Germany and Fance.

Sullivan: US nuclear posture hasn't changed

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday the U.S. has seen no reason to change its nuclear posture in light of Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine or threats involving nuclear weapons. In the opening days of the invasion of Ukraine, Putin indicated that if the U.S. and other NATO allies continued to impose heavy sanction against the Russian economy, or if they attempt to aid Ukrainian forces, the Kremlin would be ready to respond with nuclear weaponry.

"We are watching this extremely closely. And obviously the escalation risk with a nuclear power is severe, and it is a different kind of conflict and other conflicts the American people have seen over the years," Sullivan said. He noted that "as things stand today" the U.S. isn't making an adjustment to its nuclear posture, "but it is something that we monitor day by day, hour by hour."

USA TODAY/Suffolk polls: Russian Americans, Ukrainian Americans oppose war

U.S. residents who identify with Russian or Ukrainian heritage express strikingly similar views about the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, a pair of exclusive USA TODAY/Suffolk University polls finds. The two groups are united in their opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war being fiercely fought on his orders.

The invasion is opposed by nearly everyone in both groups: 87% of Russian-Americans and 94% of Ukrainian-Americans. Those of Russian descent have a more positive view of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (72%) than they do of Putin (6%). By nine-to-one, they say Putin should be removed from office.

"Somebody just needs to extract him," said Dina Sarkisova, 44, who owns a spa in San Diego and participated in the survey. Half-Russian and half-Azeri, she came to the United States as a refugee in 1990, fleeing conflict in Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union collapsed. "There's no reasoning with him."

Read more on the polling and the voices of those polled here.

Death toll in battered Mariupol surpasses 1,500, mayor says

In Mariupol, which has endured some of the worst punishment since Russia invaded, efforts to bring food, water and medicine into the port city of 430,000 and to evacuate civilians, were prevented by unceasing attacks. More than 1,500 people have died in Mariupol during the siege, according to the mayor's office, and the shelling has even interrupted efforts to bury the dead in mass graves. Russian forces shelled a mosque sheltering over 80 children and adults in Mariupol, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to break his country apart, as well as starting “a new stage of terror” with the alleged detention of a mayor from a city west of Mariupol.

“Ukraine will stand this test. We need time and strength to break the war machine that has come to our land,” Zelenskyy said during his nightly address to the nation Saturday.

Russian soldiers pillaged a humanitarian convoy that was trying to reach Mariupol and blocked another, Ukrainian officials say. Ukraine’s military said Russian forces captured Mariupol’s eastern outskirts, tightening their siege of the strategic port. Taking Mariupol and other ports on the Azov Sea could allow Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukraine government: 85 children killed by Russian attacks

Since Russian attacks on Ukraine began, 85 children have died, the Ukrainian government said Sunday morning. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova gave the casualty number in a tweet, adding the toll the war has taken on schools.

"Deliberate and brutal shelling of civilians continues. 369 educational institutions were damaged, 57 of which were completely destroyed," she said.

Bus with refugees overturns in Italy, 1 dead

Italian state radio says a bus carrying about 50 refugees from Ukraine has overturned on a major highway in northern Italy, killing a passenger and injuring several others, none of them seriously. RAI radio said one woman died and the rest of those aboard the bus were safely evacuated after the accident early Sunday near the town of Forli’. It wasn’t immediately clear where the bus was headed.

About 35,000 Ukrainians refugees who fled the war have entered Italy, most of them through its northeastern border with Slovenia. Forli’ is in the region of Emilia-Romagna, which borders the Adriatic Sea and which so far has taken in about 7,000 refugees.

The accident is under investigation.

A third Russian general has died in fighting, Ukraine officials say

A Russian general was killed in fighting at Ukraine's southern city Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said.

Maj. Gen. Andrei Kolesnikov would be the third Russian general to die since the invasion of Ukraine began, making an unusual loss of such a high-ranking military official during fighting. Kolesnikov was the commander of Russia's Eastern Military District, according to Ukraine's military.

Russia did not confirm Kolesnikov's death, and has not shared many details about its military losses during the invasion of Ukraine. Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division, and Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov, who had fought with Russian forces in Syria and Chechnya, had previously been reported killed.

Ukraine: 7 dead, including one child, in attack on humanitarian corridor

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence said Saturday that seven people, including one child, were killed Friday by Russian soldiers while traveling along a humanitarian corridor, calling the act a “military crime.”

The ministry claimed Russian soldiers shot at a group of civilians, consisting primarily of women and children, behind “the agreed ‘green’ corridor.” The attack allegedly occurred during an evacuation attempt in the village of Peremoga, which is in the Baryshevskyi district of the Kyiv region. The number of non-fatal injuries from the shooting is unknown, the agency said.

The defense ministry additionally claimed that after the shooting, Russian soldiers would not allow other individuals to escape.

“At present, it is practically impossible to contact them, as well as to provide humanitarian and medical care,” the agency said.

– Ella Lee

Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine president Zelenskyy in daily talks with Russia: March 13 recap