Ukraine and Russia prepare for third round of peace talks as war rages on

Kyiv, Ukraine - After one and a half weeks of war, Ukraine and Russia were expected to meet for a third round of negotiations, which both sides had said could take place on Monday.

People cross a destroyed bridge as they evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, during a heavy shelling and bombing.
People cross a destroyed bridge as they evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, during a heavy shelling and bombing.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The location and exact time of the talks were initially unclear.

The two delegations last met in the Brest region in western Belarus for two rounds of peace talks and agreed to have humanitarian corridors in place in the embattled cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha to facilitate the evacuation of civilians. Both attempts so far have failed.

The peace talks come as the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces warned that Russian troops were preparing for the storming of Kiev.

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In a bulletin released in the early hours of Monday, the General Staff said that Russian troops were aiming to take full control of the cities of Irpin and Bucha, just outside Kiev.

"We understand that the battle for Kyiv is a key battle [which will be fought] in the coming days," Interior Ministry advisor Vadym Denysenko was quoted as saying on Ukrainian television by online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda.

A second try at evacuating Mariupol failed on Sunday, according to the Kremlin and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Russia and Ukraine traded blame for failing to adhere to the agreed ceasefire.

Russian demands "not acceptable"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking in a video posted to Twitter.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking in a video posted to Twitter.  © Screenshot/Twitter/@ZelenskyyUa

The head of the Ukrainian delegation for talks with Russia, David Arachamia, rejected Russia's core demands as "not acceptable" in an interview with Fox News.

"I would not say we are moving fast because we have a lot of people killed every day, especially civilians," he said on Sunday when asked about the progress of the negotiations.

"It's tough, honestly, but we are still demonstrating some progress. At least, two groups are listening to each other and actively discussing different things."

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Arachamia added: "The only parts which are almost impossible to agree on are Crimea and so-called republics that Russia insists that we recognize as independent. This is not acceptable within Ukrainian society."

Russia demands that the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, be recognized as Russian territory. In addition, it wants the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, controlled by pro-Russian separatists, recognized as independent states.

The Kremlin is also calling for a complete "demilitarization" and "denazification" of Ukraine.

Across the globe, New Zealand is set to freeze Russian assets and close New Zealand's airspace and waters to Russian aircraft and vessels, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday.

A new law, which will be passed under urgency on Wednesday, will also allow for sanctions to be imposed against "other states complicit with Russia's illegal actions, such as Belarus," Ardern said.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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