Diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine may produce results “in a matter of days”, a Ukrainian negotiator said as talks between Kyiv and Moscow resumed on Monday, despite Russia striking a military base next to the Polish border on Sunday.
Hopes for a ceasefire were boosted after Russia and Ukraine gave their most upbeat assessments following negotiations over the weekend. Talks between the two countries have so far failed to produce any results.
Earlier ceasefires, designed to allow residents to evacuate cities surrounded by Russian forces, have also failed to hold. Ukraine has accused Russia of repeatedly breaching ceasefires and shelling civilians, while Moscow has pinned the blame on Kyiv.
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Ukrainian negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, has suggested there may be hope for an agreement, saying “Russia is already beginning to talk constructively.”
“I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days,” he added in an online video.
A Russian delegate to the talks, Leonid Slutsky, was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying they had made significant progress and it was possible the delegations could soon reach draft agreements.
Ukraine said talks via video were set to start Monday morning. Neither side has said what they would cover. Three rounds of talks in Russia’s key ally, Belarus, most recently last Monday, have focused mainly on humanitarian issues.
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, said the countries’ delegations had been speaking daily by video link and his negotiators aimed to “do everything” to arrange for him to meet Mr Putin.
“We must hold on. We must fight. And we will win,” Mr Zelensky said.
In a telephone call, US President, Joe Biden, and French President, Emmanuel Macron, underscored their commitment to holding Russia accountable for the invasion, the White House said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, also discussed diplomatic efforts to stop Russia’s invasion, the State Department said.
The fresh round of talks between Moscow and Kyiv come after a barrage of Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s Yavoriv International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security, a military training base just 25km from the Polish border that has previously hosted Nato military instructors, killing 35 people and wounding 134, a Ukrainian official said on Sunday.
Russia’s defence ministry said up to 180 “foreign mercenaries” and a large number of foreign weapons were destroyed. Reuters could not independently verify the casualties reported by either side.
Thousands of people have died since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, which he said is not aimed at occupying the country but at “demilitarising” and “deNazifying” it.
The United States, which had watched Russia’s build-up on Ukraine’s borders with mounting alarm for weeks, said it was a premeditated, unjustified and unlawful “war of choice”.