Russia is ready to meet with Ukraine in Belarus for negotiations.

On Sunday, a Russian team landed in Belarus for talks with Ukraine, according to a Kremlin spokeswoman published by the Ifax news agency. These are the first talks between the two countries since Russia began its invasion on February 24.

Dmitry Peskov, a Russian spokesman, said the Russian team, which comprised representatives from the foreign and defence ministries as well as President Vladimir Putin’s office, was in Gomel, Belarus, waiting for their Ukrainian counterparts.

Moscow urged its soldiers to move “from all directions” in Ukraine, as the West retaliated with sanctions aimed at crippling Russia’s banking sector late Saturday.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, 198 civilians have been murdered, including three children, according to Ukrainian officials, who also warned that Russian saboteurs were active in Kyiv, where inhabitants were forced to evacuate underground due to explosions.

After accusing Ukraine of having “rejected” discussions, Moscow said it fired cruise missiles at military targets, escalating the offensive.

However, on the third day of Russia’s invasion, resolute Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky swore that his country would never surrender to the Kremlin, despite Washington’s assertion that the invading force lacked “momentum.”

The Ukrainian army said it held off an assault on Kiev, but was fighting Russian “sabotage groups” that had infiltrated the city.

In a video message, Zelensky stated, “We will fight until we liberate our country.”

He had previously claimed that Ukraine had “derailed” Moscow’s attempt to destabilise him, and urged Russians to put pressure on President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict.

In retaliation for the invasion, the West announced that some Russian banks would be removed from the SWIFT bank messaging system, and central bank assets would be frozen, effectively crippling Russia’s trade with the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon estimates that half of Russia’s over 150,000-strong invasion force, which has been stationed on Ukraine’s borders in recent months, is now inside the nation.

However, there had been a “lack of impetus over the last 24 hours,” according to a US official, and Russia’s military had yet to acquire air control over the country.


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