Russia, Ukraine finish peace talks about Belarusian territory

Officials from Russia and Ukraine ended peace talks and will return to their respective capitals for further consultations before a second round of negotiations, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said.

The Ukraine president’s office said its main goals were an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops. 

Vladimir Medinsky, head of the Russian delegation, said “as every hour of conflict brings new casualties among Ukrainian soldiers, we are definitely interested in reaching any agreements as soon as possible”.

The delegation included Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, among others.

“But those agreements should be for the benefit of both sides,” he added. 

The Kremlin declined to outline Russia’s aims ahead of the talks.

The meeting took place at the Rumyantsev-Paskevich residence in Gomel, Belarus. 

Belarus is a strong Russian ally, where a referendum on Sunday approved a new constitution ditching the country’s non-nuclear status at a time when the former Soviet republic has become a launching pad for Russian troops invading Ukraine.

A man adjusts his glasses in a suit.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov is among the delegation.

“Dear friends, the president of Belarus has asked me to welcome you and facilitate your work as much as possible,” Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said at the start of the meeting, according to the foreign ministry’s translation on Twitter.

“As it was agreed with the presidents (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy and Putin, you can feel completely secure.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the European Union on Monday to allow Ukraine to gain membership under a special procedure immediately as it defends itself from invasion by Russian forces.

“Our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal. I’m sure that’s fair. I am sure we deserve it,” he said in a video speech shared on social media.

Fifth day of fighting

The talks come as the war in Europe enters its fifth day. 

Blasts were heard before dawn on Monday (local time) in the capital of Kyiv and in the major eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian authorities said.

But attempts by Russian ground forces to capture major urban centres had been repelled, they added.

A man in orange outfit hands out paper bags.
Many have fled to the Ukrainian-Romanian border.

Russia’s defence ministry, however, said its forces had taken over the towns of Berdyansk and Enerhodar in Ukraine’s south-eastern Zaporizhzhya region as well as the area around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Interfax reported. The plant’s operations continued normally, it said.

Ukraine denied reports the nuclear plant had fallen into Russian hands, according to the news agency.

There was fighting around the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol throughout the night, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional administration, said on television on Monday.

He did not say whether Russian forces had gained or lost any ground or provide any casualty figures.

At least 102 civilians in Ukraine have been killed since Thursday, with a further 304 wounded, but the real figure is feared to be “considerably higher”, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said.

A woman nurses a child on the road.
The Ukraine delegation is hoping for an immediate ceasefire.

The UN has said more than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded last week. 

The latest and count had 281,000 people entering Poland, more than 84,500 in Hungary, about 36,400 in Moldova, over 32,500 in Romania and about 30,000 in Slovakia, UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said.

The rest were scattered in unidentified other countries, she said.

Mr Zelenskyy also said he would release Ukrainian prisoners who have combat experience from jail to defend the country.

“All sanctions are lifted from some people who took part in the anti-terrorist operation. The key now is defence.”

“Under martial law, participants in hostilities — Ukrainians with real combat experience — will be released from custody and will be able to compensate for their guilt in the hottest spots of war,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine is also training people to make firebombs.

Authorities have been handing out weapons to anyone willing to defend the city.

West is an ’empire of lies’, Putin says

The Russian military says its nuclear deterrent forces have been put on high alert in line with President Vladimir Putin’s order.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said all of Russia’s nuclear forces have been boosted with additional personnel.

The Defence Ministry said the high alert status applies to all components of Russian nuclear forces — the Strategic Missile Forces, the Northern and Pacific Fleets and the long-range aviation that has a fleet of nuclear-capable strategic bombers.

 Firefighters hose down burning burning debris in front of a damaged building following a rocket attack.
Russia’s rouble plummeted against the dollar in response to sanctions from the West for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Putin called the West an “empire of lies” as he discussed the economy with top officials on Monday following the imposition of sweeping sanctions against Moscow, the Kremlin said.

“(Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin) and I discussed this topic, naturally bearing in mind the sanctions that the so-called Western community — as I called it in my speech, the ’empire of lies’ — is now trying to implement against our country,” a transcript of the meeting quoted Mr Putin as saying.

Russia’s rouble plummeted against the dollar on Monday, leading losses among developing world currencies.

The rouble slid nearly 30 per cent to hit a record low against the dollar, slammed by the sanctions including restrictions on key Russian banks to use global payments network SWIFT.

Russia’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 20 per cent from 9.5 per cent in an emergency move, and authorities told export-focused companies to be ready to sell foreign currency.

The United States went further on Monday and blocked Americans from engaging in any transactions involving Russia’s central bank and imposed sanctions on a key Russian sovereign wealth fund.

The US Treasury Department said the sanctions also target Russia’s National Wealth Fund and its Ministry of Finance, the department said in a statement.

In response to earlier moves by EU countries, Russia closed its airspace to carriers from 36 nations, including European countries and Canada

The state aviation agency said planes from those countries could only enter Russia’s airspace with special permission.


Arab Observer

Related Articles

Back to top button