Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Russian officials arrive in Belarus for talks with Ukraine, Kremlin says

Ukraine says it is ready for peace talks with Russia but not in Belarus

Arpan Rai
Sunday 27 February 2022 08:58 GMT
Ukraine accuses Russian troops of blowing up gas pipeline in Kharkiv

The Kremlin announced on Sunday that a Russian delegation has arrived in Belarusian city Homel for talks with Ukraine.

“The Russian delegation is ready for talks, and we are now waiting for the Ukrainians,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered the fourth day on Sunday.

Mr Peskov said the Russian delegation included officials from the foreign and defence ministries and president Vladimir Putin’s office, according to the Interfax news agency.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky swiftly responded and said his country was ready for peace talks with Russia, but not in Belarus, which was an invasion staging ground.

The Ukrainian leader offered alternate locations such as Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest or Baku in Europe hold the talks.

“The talks can be held but only in a country from which missiles aren’t flying”, Mr Zelensky said, referring to territory provided to Russia by Belarus in the last three days of invasion, adding that other locations are possible for the diplomacy route.

A Ukrainian government adviser dismissed the Russian move to hold talks as “propaganda”. The adviser said that Ukraine is seeking only “real” negotiations with Russia over its military offensive, without ultimatums.

However, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko pressed on Ukraine to accept the offer to sit down and hold talks if it did not want to lose statehood.

This is the first time Russia has come forward to initiate peace talks even as its military demolished key structures in Ukraine, sidelining global requests for diplomacy route. Kyiv has maintained its eagerness for peace talks to end the conflict that has been simmering for over a month now.

Russian troops continued to march in parts of Kyiv in heavy military vehicles on Sunday and captured Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv after heavy fighting and destruction to parts of the country.

The troops, rushing to capture Kyiv and topple Mr Zelensky’s regime, destroyed a gas pipeline in Kharkiv earlier in the day.

Heavy street fighting erupted in Kharkiv, as a string of attacks by Russian troops targetted airfields and fuel facilities in the next stage of their invasion despite global condemnation of Mr Putin’s actions.

An oil depot in Vasylkiv was also damaged in the early hours of Sunday, prompting Ukrainian officials to send their citizens indoors to escape toxic fumes.

A chain of blasts continued to rock the capital city of Kyiv on Sunday afternoon, parallel to the diplomacy talks proposal.

Multiple explosions and gunfight were reported from a nearby town.

A bridge was blown up near the Bucha town, west of Kyiv, according to a local news website. Heavy fighting was under way in the town where Russian forces are trying to move forward and capture Kyiv, said Anton Herashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine’s interior minister.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in