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Moscow wants list of weapons that can never be deployed in Ukraine: Russia’s FM

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (photo by Reuters)

Russia has demanded the demilitarization of Ukraine, saying there should be a list of specified weapons that the nation could never possess, as a second round of conflict-resolution talks between Moscow and Kiev is underway.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the remarks in an interview with Al Jazeera on Wednesday, saying, "Specific types of strike weapons must be identified which will never be deployed in Ukraine and will not be created."

The remarks came a few hours after Lavrov said Russia would face a "real danger" if Kiev acquired nuclear weapons, warning that if a third World War were to take place, it would involve nuclear weapons.

Russia will not allow Ukraine to obtain the weaponry, the top Russian diplomat said, adding that the ongoing military offensive aims to keep Ukraine away from such a scenario.

The latest development came as a second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine was scheduled on Wednesday. Previous talks failed to produce any breakthrough.

Lavrov further said Russia recognized President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Ukraine's leader and welcomed as a "positive step" the fact that Zelenskiy wanted to receive security guarantees.

"Our negotiators are ready for the second round of discussing these guarantees with Ukrainian representatives," he said.

Zelenskiy said in an interview on Tuesday that Russia needed to halt its bombing of Ukraine before further talks could take place. He called for security guarantees, but from NATO and not from Russia.

Russian troops in streets of Kherson

Meanwhile, the mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, Igor Kolykhayev, has said Russian troops were in the streets and had forced their way into the city council building.

Kolykhayev urged Russian soldiers not to shoot at civilians and publicly called on people to walk through the streets only in daylight and in ones and twos.

"We don’t have any Ukrainian forces in the city, only civilians and people here who want to LIVE here!" he said in a statement.

This comes as Ukraine's government had earlier denied the claim that Kherson had fallen into Russian hands, saying fighting was still occurring around the port city.

On Wednesday, Russia announced that its forces had taken control of Kherson on the Black Sea, as Moscow's large-scale military offensive against its neighbor entered its seventh day.

Kherson, a city of nearly a quarter million people just north of Crimea, is the biggest city to fall to Russian forces so far.

Last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military offensive against Ukraine. Russian forces have been advancing towards Kiev and seizing control of a number of towns and cities along the way. Authorities in Moscow have denied claims made by Ukrainian and Western officials of civilian areas being targeted by the Russian military.

Zelenskiy has said almost 6,000 Russians have lost their lives, a claim that has not been verified. 

Russia's Defense Ministry has said 498 Russian troops have died in Ukraine since the beginning of the military offensive. The ministry has also said more than 2,870 Ukrainian soldiers and "nationalists" have been killed and about 3,700 wounded.

A million refugees have fled Ukraine since the start of the war: UN

Separately on Wednesday, the UN refugee chief said one million refugees have fled across the borders of Ukraine since Russian forces attacked a week ago.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a post on his Twitter account that, "In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighboring countries."

"For many millions more, inside Ukraine, it's time for guns to fall silent, so that life-saving humanitarian assistance can be provided," he added in his tweet.

The new total of refugees from Ukraine amounts to a little more than 2% of the country's total population of 44 million.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), around half of the refugees are in Poland, with Hungary, Moldova, and Slovakia being the other top destinations.


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