the ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyaffirmed on Sunday that his government is “deeply studying” the issue of Ukraine’s “neutrality” demanded by Russia, a key point in the peace negotiations, while envoys from kyiv and Moscow prepare for a new round of talks aimed at to put an end to the brutal war that has lasted more than a month.
In an interview with several independent Russian media, Zelensky recalled that one of the crucial clauses is that of “Security guarantees and neutrality, the nuclear-weapon-free status of our State.” “We are willing to accept it (…) it is under discussion, it is study thoroughly”assured.
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Zelensky He also said that several Russian businessmen had offered to donate money to help Ukraine, including to support its army, or help during the country’s reconstruction after the war ends.
Ukrainian and Russian negotiators will talk face to face early next week in Turkey, specifically in Istanbul, according to the Turkish presidency, in a new attempt to put an end to the invasion of Ukraine by Russiawhich has already claimed at least 1,100 civilian lives, says the UN.
In recent days, fears that the conflict could deteriorate have increased, after the US president, Joe Biden, visiting Poland, described his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, as a “butcher” and stated that “he cannot remain in the power”.
Although the White House immediately qualified its words and insisted that Washington was not seeking regime change, the Kremlin reacted harshly, stating that the personal attacks were “reducing the window of opportunity” for bilateral relations, according to its spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
The offhand comment, which sowed concern in Washington and abroad, appeared to undermine efforts by Biden himself, visiting Europe to underscore a carefully orchestrated unity in support of kyiv.
French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Sunday against an “escalation in words or actions” in Ukraine that would make it more difficult to end the war and more specifically, his efforts in the conversations with Putin to agree on the evacuation of civilians from the devastated port city of Mariupol.
But neither intense diplomacy nor mounting sanctions have persuaded Putin to stop the war.
With his army facing tactical, communications and logistical problems, Russia he suggested on Friday that from now on he would focus on the eastern region of Ukraine.
For the head of Ukrainian intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, Putin seeks to “impose a line of separation between the occupied and unoccupied regions” of Ukraine, in “an attempt to establish (a model like that of) South Korea and North Korea in Ukraine”.
A neutral Ukraine?
A demand Putin’s key, even before After its troops entered Ukraine on February 24, the former Soviet republic gave up its declared intention to eventually join NATO.
The Kremlin said that Sweden and Austria offered models of neutrality that Ukraine could adopt.
kyiv rejected the proposal and, in his interview with Russian journalists, Zelensky he accused Putin of delaying the negotiations and prolonging the conflict.
The new round of negotiations comes at a time when Moscow maintains de facto control over the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in the eastern Donbas region.
The leader of Ukraine’s breakaway Lugansk region said he may hold a referendum to decide whether the territory becomes part of Russiaa move immediately criticized by kyiv as an attempt by Moscow to undermine the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Meanwhile, Russian troops have also continued to shell the port city of Mariupol. Controlling it would allow Moscow to connect its forces on the occupied Crimean peninsula with pro-Russian separatist troops in eastern Ukraine.
New humanitarian corridors were opened on Sunday to allow the evacuation of civilians from this strategic port on the Azov Sea shore, where more than 2,000 civilians have already died, according to the municipality.
But attempts to establish safe routes for the 170,000 civilians trapped in the city to flee have so far failed, with both sides accusing each other of violating temporary ceasefires.
Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine by promising to destroy its army and overthrow Zelenskybut so far the Russian military has met fierce Ukrainian resistance and made little progress in capturing key cities.
Meanwhile, attacks on the population and on civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, residential buildings and schools have increased.
In Kharkov, local authorities recorded 44 artillery attacks and 140 rocket attacks in a single day, and attacks also continued in Irpin and other cities around kyiv, Ukrainian authorities said.
Resting in a chair at an evacuation center on the outskirts of kyiv, Tamara Osypchuk, 72, told AFP that she wrote poetry to calm herself in her apartment in devastated Irpin when the bombs fell.
“I write poems and when there are explosions I feel a great inspiration. The explosions were very strong. As if a volcano exploded, as if the earth exploded, ”he assured.
In the southern city of Mykolaiv, under heavy Russian bombardment for weeks, the attacks appeared to be easing and the front lines appeared to have receded from Mykolaiv, with a counteroffensive now mounted at Kherson, some 80km to the southeast.
“Allied forces have repelled seven attacks” and destroyed eight tanks in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas of Donbas, according to a new update from the Ukrainian General Staff.
For their part, Russian troops took control of Slavútych, in northern Ukraine, where the staff of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant reside, and temporarily arrested the mayor, according to regional authorities.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said its forces had also recaptured Trostianets, a town near the border with Russia which was one of the first to fall under Moscow’s control.
According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), 3,821,049 Ukrainians have already fled the country and there are more than 6.5 million internally displaced persons.
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