Why Ukraine is talking of a “victory” over Russia
Ukraine and Russia have agreed to take part in negotiations, with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine saying they would listen to what Russia has to say.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, said on Sunday that his country was willing to negotiate with Russia, and although he initially rejected that the talks would take place in Belarus, given that part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched from there, Kyiv has now accepted
The talks are set to take place in Belarus on the Pripyat river, which rises in the Lyubomisky District of Ukraine before flowing for 500 km in Belarus, before heading back into Ukraine for the final 50 kilometers. Note there is a city of Pripyat which is within Ukraine but was abandoned after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Kyiv accepts talks in Belarus
Initially, Zelenskyy said they would propose Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul or Baku. "We propose any of these", he said in a video posted to the internet. The Ukrainian president said any city would be acceptable in any country from where "they aren't firing missiles at us". The Ukrainian people "wants to talk, wants the war to be over."
In the end it appears Ukraine have ceded to the demands of the Russians, who initially proposed the city of Gomel, in the southeast of Belarus, for the talks.
Belarus has been a loyal supporter of Russia during the conflict and has allowed the Russian army to both station troops on its land and launch incursions into Ukraine from its territory. The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, said there would be no hostilities launched from Belarus while the talks process was ongoing.
Holding talks a "victory for Ukraine"
The Ukrainian foreign minister Dimitro Kuleba said that simply holding talks was with Russia was a "victory" for Ukraine. He said the Russian invasion had failed and that Russia had not managed to achieve any "strategic goal". He stressed that Ukraine would not "give up an inch of territory".
"Ukraine is not falling, we are bleeding but we continue to successfully defend ourselves. We will not fall. We will not stop or get tired. This is people's war. It's not a war between one state and another, it's a war between President Putin and the people of Ukraine," he said.
Kuleba also said that nobody should interpret the talks as indicating that Ukraine would be forced to accept any conditions, rather that Ukraine would be discussing the withdrawal of Russian soldiers.
"We go there to listen to what Russia wants to say, we are going without any … preliminary agreement on what the outcome of these talks can be. We are going there to listen and to say what we think of this war and Russia’s actions,” Kuleba said.
Russian forces enter Kharkiv
Despite the prospect of talks, the diplomatic tension between Ukraine and Russia only heightened overnight as Russian troops managed to enter Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, in the north-east of the country.
The regional governor, Oleg Sinegubov, said that although the Russians had managed to enter the city, it had been retaken by Ukrainian forces which were "destroying the armed forces of the enemy"
Kyiv resisting the advance of Russian troops
While the initial predictions were that the capital Kyiv would fall swiftly to superior Russian forces, the capital survived its third night on Saturday with no major incursions by Russian troops since the start of the invasion on Thursday night, although the mayor of the city, Vitali Klitschko, former heavyweight boxing champion, said the city was encircled and on the brink of a humanitarian disaster, with no infrastructure to deliver food and medicine.
Curfew in Kyiv
The Ukrainian government has put in place a curfew in Kyiv, with nobody allowed on the streets till 8am on Monday. Anyone on the streets of the capital will be "considered as a member of the enemy forces". The advice to citizens was to head to metro stations, which are the "safest" places right now.
Russian gains in the south of Ukraine
Russia confirms it has two cities surrounded in the south of Ukraine, Kherson and Berdyansk, saying the Russian forces has managed to blockade the two cities over the past 24 hours.
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