Ukraine war: Kyiv's chief negotiator reveals timeline for restarting peace talks
Kyiv, Ukraine - Ukraine plans to resume peace talks with Russia by the end of August, after counter-attack operations have been carried out, officials said on Saturday, as heavy fighting continued in the east.
The country will be in a better position to negotiate at that time, Kyiv's chief negotiator, David Arakhamia, said in an interview with Voice of America, without giving details of the strategy.
Peace negotiations have come to a standstill. At the end of March, Ukraine said it was prepared to renounce ambitions for NATO membership in exchange for international security guarantees.
Russia, however, is demanding the complete demilitarization of its neighbor and the ceding of territory, including the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the front line in the south, stopping in the cities of Mykolaiv and Odessa.
In a video posted on his Telegram channel, Zelensky is seen inspecting the war-damaged city Mykolaiv and handing out medals to the region's governor and the city's mayor after receiving a briefing.
According to the video description, Zelensky discussed "the state of the economy, re-establishment of water supply and the situation of the agriculture."
Later in the day, Zelensky visited a National Guard position in the Odessa region and the Black Sea port city itself. Odessa, which is Ukraine's main port, is under a Russian naval blockade. The city has also been shelled by the Russians from a distance.
Ukrainian troops are stationed in Odessa to repel a possible Russian landing operation on the coast.
Millions of Ukrainians taken to Russia
Meanwhile, in the heavily contested Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, civilians are likely suspicious about using proposed humanitarian corridors to leave the region, according to British intelligence.
There are hardly any ways to get out of the city other than by using the humanitarian corridors unilaterally issued by Russia and its allies.
However, Moscow has previously used such corridors in Ukraine and Syria as a means of gaining battlefield advantage and forcibly relocating people, the British Ministry of Defense said in its daily report. It also warned that, in case civilians do not take up the offer of exiting via a corridor, "Russia will likely claim justification in making less of a distinction between them and any Ukrainian military targets in the area."
The Russian Defense Ministry also announced that some 2 million people from Ukraine have been taken to Russia since the start of the conflict.
General Mikhail Mizintsev said Russian forces had brought 1.936 million people to Russia, including 307,000 children, and 29,730 people on Saturday alone, this time including 3,500 children.
Moscow says it is helping evacuate people from the contested areas of Donetsk and Luhansk to safety. But Ukraine argues that it is keeping the people from fleeing to areas not controlled by Russian forces, in effect, deporting them. Many of those sent to Russia have attempted to get back to Ukraine via third countries.
Cover photo: MAXIM GUCHEK / BELTA / AFP