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KYIV/LVIV, (Ukraine): US President Joe Biden sought to prevent Beijing giving new life to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a video call with his Chinese counterpart on Friday as stalled Russian forces pressed on with bombardments of towns and cities.

With Russia looking to regain the initiative, three missiles landed at an airport near Lviv, a western city where hundreds of thousands thought they had found refuge far from Ukraine’s battlefields.

The Russian defence ministry said it was “tightening the noose” around the besieged southern port of Mariupol, where officials said more than 1,000 people may still be trapped in makeshift bomb shelters beneath a destroyed theatre. Ukraine said it had rescued 130 people from the theatre’s basement after the building was flattened by Russian strikes two days ago. Russia denies hitting the theatre and says it does not target civilians.

China is the one big power that has yet to condemn Russia’s assault and Washington says it fears Beijing may be considering giving Moscow financial and military support, something that both Russia and China deny.

Xi said conflicts such as the events in Ukraine were in no one’s interests, and that NATO should hold talks with Russia to resolve the factors behind the conflict, Chinese state media reported, adding that the call had been at Biden’s request.

The White House said only that the two men spoke for just under two hours. Earlier, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Xi should tell Russian President Vladimir Putin to end “this war of carnage” in Ukraine.

‘MINIMAL PROGRESS’

At the start of the fourth week of Putin’s attempt to subdue what he calls an artificial state undeserving of nationhood, Ukraine’s elected government is still standing and Russian forces have not captured a single big city. Putin promised tens of thousands of people waving Russian flags at a soccer stadium in Moscow the “special operation” would succeed.

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