Ukraine-Russia in-person talks to resume today
Lviv: Ukraine sees no signs on the ground that Russia has given up a plan to surround the capital Kyiv, Ukrainian defence ministry spokesperson Oleksander Motuzyanyk said on Monday. The disposition of Russian forces during the past 24 hours has seen no significant change, but Russia has gained more ground in the vicinity of Mariupol, British military intelligence said.
The Kremlin said that peace talks between Russia and Ukraine may get underway in Turkey on Tuesday and it was important that they would take place face-to-face, after what it described as a lack of major progress in negotiations so far, news agency Reuters reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a telephone call on Sunday for Istanbul to host the talks, which Ankara hopes will lead to a ceasefire in Ukraine.
Turkey said the talks could begin as early as Monday, but Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that was unlikely as the negotiators would only be arriving in Turkey on Monday.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said that Ukraine has no plans to open any humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from besieged cities on Monday because of intelligence reports warning of possible Russian "provocations" along the routes. Russia is increasingly focused on grinding down Ukraine's military in the east in the hope of forcing Kyiv into surrendering part of the country's territory to possibly end the war.
Turkey's private DHA news agency said the Russian government plane landed at Istanbul Airport on Monday. The talks are scheduled to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Ukraine could declare neutrality, potentially accept a compromise on contested areas in the country's east, and offer security guarantees to Russia to secure peace without delay. He said only a face-to-face meeting with Russia's leader could end the war.
In another development, a special unit of the Ukrainian defence forces, fighting the war, has claimed that it has managed to destroy the 40-mile convoy of the Russian army heading towards Kyiv. The convoy had come to a grinding halt outside the Ukrainian capital and these amateur drone users said they launched multiple deadly ambushes to deal a death blow to the mechanised column.
The drone operators of the 30-strong Ukrainian special forces were drawn from an air reconnaissance unit Aerorozvidka, according to The Guardian.
The publication further said that this unit has evolved into an essential element in Ukraine's successful resistance against Russia.
The fighters use drones with thermal imagine cameras or those capable of dropping small bombs as well as sniper rifles, according to the report.
The drone operators on quad bikes carry out night ambushes. The unit's commander Lt Col Yaroslav Honchar told
The Guardian that the riders were able
to approach the massive column of tanks and other artillery by riding through the forests at night.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the other hand, said on Monday that the two presidents could meet, but only after the key elements of a potential deal are negotiated.
Earlier talks, held both by video and in person, failed to make progress on ending the war that has killed thousands and driven more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes, including almost 4 million from their country.
NATO-member Turkey has close relations with both Ukraine and Russia. Earlier this month, it hosted a meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers.
Meanwhile, Lavrov is likely to visit India in the next one week and the key focus is expected to be discussions on a payment system for New Delhi's procurement of oil and military hardware from Moscow, people familiar with the developments said on Monday.
It would be the highest-level visit from Russia to India after Moscow launched its military offensive against Ukraine on February 24.
There has been no official word on the proposed visit either by the Ministry of External Affairs or by the Russian Foreign ministry.