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Ukraine seeks truce in talks with Russia

Ukrainian Defence minister Oleksii Reznikov (Left) shakes hands with Russian negotiators prior the talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus’ Brest region on March 3, 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian Defence minister Oleksii Reznikov (Left) shakes hands with Russian negotiators prior the talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus’ Brest region on March 3, 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. | Photo Credit: AFP

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met on Thursday and Kyiv said it would call for a ceasefire and humanitarian corridors to evacuate its besieged citizens, as the war entered its second week with Ukrainian cities surrounded and under bombardment.

Hundreds of Russian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians have been killed since President Vladimir Putin sent his troops over the border on February 24. Russia itself has been plunged into isolation never before experienced by an economy of such size.

The United Nations said more than 1 million refugees had fled in just seven days, one of the fastest exoduses in memory.

Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak tweeted a picture of the delegations at a conference table in an undisclosed location. The Ukrainians wore battle fatigues and winter jackets; the Russians wore suits and ties.

Mr. Podolyak said Ukraine would demand an immediate ceasefire, armistice and “humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from destroyed or constantly shelled villages/cities.”

Neither side has suggested it was expecting breakthroughs after a first round of talks held in Belarus on Monday led to no progress.

Despite an initial battle plan that Western countries said was aimed at swiftly toppling the Kyiv government, Russia has captured only one Ukrainian city so far — the southern Dnipro River port of Kherson, which its tanks entered on Wednesday.

With its main assault force halted for days on a highway north of Kyiv, Russia has shifted tactics, escalating its bombardment of major cities. Swathes of central Kharkiv, a city of 1.5 million people, have been blasted into rubble. Mariupol, the main port of eastern Ukraine, has been surrounded and is under heavy bombardment, with no water or power. Officials say they cannot evacuate the wounded. 

At least 22 bodies have been recovered from rubble in the wake of Russian air strikes in Chernihiv region.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has stayed in Kyiv, releasing regular video updates to the nation. In his latest message, he said Ukrainian lines were holding. “We have nothing to lose but our own freedom,” he said.


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Printable version | Aug 7, 2022 4:27:57 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/ukraine-seeks-ceasefire-humanitarian-corridors-at-talks-with-russia/article65188056.ece