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Kremlin: Russia seeks ‘more substantial’ talks with Ukraine to end conflict

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)
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Governor of Russia's Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region Dmitry Artyukhov at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21, 2022. (Photo via AFP)

Russia says it would like to have more “substantial” talks with Kiev to end almost a month of conflict, which has so far forced more than 3.5 million people to flee Ukraine.  

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement on Tuesday that there is “some kind of process happening,” in talks with Kiev, but Moscow “would like more active and substantial (talks).”

Russia's position was "well-known to the Ukrainian side" because Moscow handed over its demands in written form "many days ago,” Peskov said.

Moscow and Kiev are currently holding negotiations remotely after several rounds of talks between their delegations, which took place on the border between Belarus and Ukraine, have yielded little progress.

Late Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed an offer of direct peace talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. He said that he was ready to meet Putin "in any format" to discuss ending the war.

On February 24, Putin announced a “special military operation” aimed at “demilitarization” of the restive Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine. He said that the mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”

The Kremlin said earlier this month that it would halt the military operation instantly if Kiev meets Moscow’s list of conditions, including the recognition of Crimea as a “Russian territory,” and Donetsk and Lugansk as “independent states.”

Zelensky said in response that he was ready to discuss the status of Crimea and other separatist territories, but that any deal would be put to a referendum in Ukraine.

More than 3.5 million people flee Ukraine: UN

Since the start of the war, more than 3.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said on Tuesday.

"The speed and the scale of this outflow and this displacement crisis is unprecedented in recent times," UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh told reporters in Geneva, recalling the "tragic milestone" has been reached in just under a month.

Women and children account for some 90 percent of those who have fled.

According to UNICEF, the UN children's agency, more than 1.5 million children are among the refugees.

Meanwhile, Antonio Vitorino, head of the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), said, “The scale of human suffering and forced displacement due to the war far exceeds any worst-case scenario planning.”


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