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Ukraine: At least 22 civilians killed in Russian airstrike in Chernihiv

Ukraine’s state emergencies agency said at least 22 civilians have been killed in a Russian strike on a residential area in the city of Chernihiv, a city of 280,000 in Ukraine’s north.

It said the casualties could be higher as rescuers continue to look through debris.

The announcement comes as Ukraine President Zelensky’s office says the second round of talks with the Russians has begun over the war in his country.

On Thursday, a video which was released by President Zelensky’s office showed the Ukrainian delegation entering a meeting room where they shook hands with Russian delegates.

A second round of talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations began in neighbouring Belarus, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office.

But the two sides appeared to have little common ground going into the meeting, and Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine that it must quickly accept the Kremlin’s demand for its “demilitarisation” and declare itself neutral, formally renouncing its bid to join Nato.

Mr Putin has long contended that Ukraine’s turn toward the West is a threat to Moscow, an argument he used to justify the invasion.

Russian forces captured a strategic Ukrainian port and besieged another in a bid to cut the country off from the sea, as the two sides met for another round of talks aimed at stopping the fighting that has set off an exodus of over one million refugees.

Moscow’s advance on Ukraine’s capital has apparently stalled over the past few days, with a huge armoured column north of Kyiv at a standstill, but the military has made significant gains in the south as part of an effort to sever the country’s connection to the Black and Azov seas.

The Russian military said it had control of Kherson, and local Ukrainian officials confirmed that forces have taken over local government headquarters in the Black Sea port of 280,000, making it the first major city to fall since the invasion began a week ago.

Heavy fighting continued on the outskirts of another strategic port, Mariupol, on the Azov Sea, plunging it into darkness, isolation and fear. Electricity and phone service were largely down, and homes and shops faced food and water shortages.

Without phone connections, medics did not know where to take the wounded.

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