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Ukraine, Russia struggle to resume in-person peace talks as – National | Nation World News

Ukraine and Russia were preparing on Monday for the first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks, with Kyiv insisting it would make no concessions on Ukraine’s territorial integrity as the momentum of the battlefield shifted in its favor. Has occurred.


Ukrainian officials downplayed the prospect of a major breakthrough in talks in Istanbul after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

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Russian forces focus on eastern Ukraine, continue attacks on Kyiv

But the fact that they were happening in person – for the first time since an acrimonious meeting between foreign ministers on March 10 – was a sign of change behind the scenes as Russia’s offensive has failed.

On land, there was no sign of relief for civilians in besieged cities, especially the devastated port of Mariupol, whose mayor said 160,000 people were still trapped inside, and accused Russia of being impossible to evacuate. .

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Ukrainian soldiers inspect a house destroyed by Russian forces in the village of Bachtanka near Mykolaiv, a major city on a road to Odessa, on March 27.

Oleksandr Gimanov / AFP via Getty Images

A senior Turkish official said the Istanbul talks would start on Monday, but the Kremlin later said they were unlikely to start until Tuesday, adding that it is important that they go face-to-face despite little progress in talks so far .

The head of the Ukrainian delegation, Mykhailo Podolyak, told Reuters that the start time depends on when the delegation can reach there.

Ukrainian officials have suggested repeatedly in recent weeks that they believe Russia may be more willing to compromise now, as Moscow has hardened any hopes of imposing a new government on Kyiv. Ukrainian resistance and heavy Russian losses led to the slip.

Click to play video: 'Is Russia's strategy to isolate Ukraine changing?'

Is Russia’s strategy to isolate Ukraine changing?

Is Russia’s strategy to isolate Ukraine changing?

Russia’s military signaled last week that it was focusing on expanding separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine, diverting the bulk of its massive offensive force to a failed attack on Kyiv a month later. After commit.

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When the two sides met in person, Ukraine accused Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of ignoring his pleas to discuss a ceasefire, while Lavrov said stopping fighting was not even on the agenda.

Since then, they have repeatedly met through video links rather than face-to-face. The two sides have publicly discussed progress on a diplomatic thread under which Ukraine could accept some sort of formal neutral position.

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But neither of them bowed down to Russia’s territorial demands, including Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014, and the eastern regions known as Donbass, which Moscow demands. Hand over Kyiv to the separatists.

“I don’t think there will be any success on the main issues,” Vadim Denisenko, adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, said on Monday.

In an interview with Russian journalists over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned some form of “compromise” involving the Donbass, though he did not suggest that it might include annexing the region.

In his latest overnight remarks, he clarified that “territorial integrity” remains Kyiv’s priority in the talks.

Russia called its action in Ukraine a “special military operation” to disarm and “deny” its neighbor. Kyiv and the West consider this an excuse for an unprovoked attack.

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From the outset, Westerners said they believed Russia’s real objective was to topple the Kyiv government rapidly, which Moscow failed to achieve in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance, with heavy Russian losses later.

Last week, Ukrainian forces went on the offensive, pushing Russian troops back into areas around Kyiv, northeast and southwest. Russia meanwhile has maintained pressure in the southeast near separatist areas, including a disastrous siege of the Mariupol port, which left thousands of civilians stranded for weeks.

Ukrainian soldiers inspect a pothole near a house that was destroyed by Russian forces on March 27 in the village of Bachtanka near Mykolaiv, a major town on the road to Odessa.

Oleksandr Gimanov / AFP via Getty Images

The city’s mayor, Vadim Boichenko, who has fled the city and was speaking from an undisclosed location, said 160,000 citizens were still trapped there without heat and electricity. Twenty-six buses were waiting to evacuate them but the Russian army was unwilling to give them a safe passage.

“The situation in the city remains difficult. People are beyond the line of humanitarian catastrophe, ”Boichenko said on national television. “We need to completely evacuate Mariupol.”

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Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said Monday there were no plans to open the corridor to evacuate civilians from besieged cities, due to intelligence reports of possible Russian “provocations” on the routes.

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Married in a Ukrainian bomb shelter

Elsewhere, Russia’s armored columns are stuck, having trouble resupplying and pounding residential areas despite little or no progress.

“To this day, the enemy is regrouping its forces, but they cannot advance anywhere in Ukraine,” Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hannah Malayar said on Monday.

Click to play video: 'Ukrainian refugees navigating visa issues in Canada'

Ukrainian refugees navigating visa issues in Canada

Ukrainian refugees navigating visa issues in Canada

Britain’s Defense Ministry also said that there had been no major change in Russia’s position in the past 24 hours, with most Russians gaining gains near Mariupol and heavy fighting there.

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Ukraine’s General Staff said Kyiv defense forces were trying to break through Russian troops from the northeast and northwest and capture major roads and settlements. In the south, the Ukrainian army was focused on defending the cities of Krivi Rih, Zaporizhzhya and Mykolaiv.

(Reporting by Reuters Bureau; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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