Ukraine's leader Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday made a fresh appeal for talks with Moscow, while Russia admitted using advanced hypersonic missiles for the first time in the conflict.
Russian forces have taken heavy losses and their advance has largely stalled since President Vladimir Putin launched the assault on Feb 24, with long columns of troops that bore down on Kyiv halted in its suburbs.
But they have laid siege to cities, blasting urban areas to rubble, and in recent days have intensified missile attacks on scattered targets in western Ukraine, away from the main battlefields in the north and east.
Russia yesterday said its hypersonic missiles had destroyed a large underground depot for missiles and aircraft ammunition in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region. Hypersonic weapons can travel faster than five times the speed of sound and the Interfax agency said it was the first time Russia had used them in Ukraine.
Moscow also said its troops had broken Ukrainian defences to enter the strategic southern port city of Mariupol and destroyed radio and intelligence sites just outside Odessa.
Ukrainian authorities said they had "temporarily" lost access to the Sea of Azov although Russia has effectively controlled the coastline for weeks after ringing Mariupol.
More than 3.3 million refugees have already fled Ukraine through its western border, with around 2 more million displaced inside the country.
Unprecedented Western sanctions aimed at crippling Russia's economy and starving its war machine have yet to halt what Putin calls a "special operation" to disarm its neighbour and purge it of "Nazis". Kyiv and its allies have called this a baseless pretext for war.
Ukrainian authorities yesterday said they have not seen any significant shifts over the past 24 hours in front line areas.
Kyiv and Moscow reported some progress in talks this week towards a political formula that would guarantee Ukraine's security, while keeping it outside Nato, though both sides accused each other of dragging things out.
A warehouse with household goods is seen on fire after shelling, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Sumy, Ukraine, in this handout picture released on Friday. Photo: Reuters
"This is the time to meet, to talk, time for renewing territorial integrity and fairness for Ukraine," Zelensky said in a video posted to Facebook.
"Otherwise, Russia's losses will be such that several generations will not recover."
Russia's ally China told US President Joe Biden on Friday that the war "in no one's interest," but showed no sign of giving in to US pressure to join Western condemnation of Russia.
Biden warned his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping of "consequences" for any financial or military aid for Russia, a move that could turn the standoff into a global confrontation.
But a day after US President Joe Biden warned China against giving Russia material support for its invasion, Lavrov said ties between Moscow and Beijing would only grow stronger.