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Kiev Backtracks on Peace Talks in Gomel After Russian Delegation Arrives in Belarus

© Sputnik / Evgeny Biyatov / Go to the mediabankKremlin, Moscow
Kremlin, Moscow - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.02.2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invited Vladimir Putin to sit down for talks earlier this week, but as soon as Russia agreed, Kiev broke off contact. Later, the Kremlin revealed that Putin had ordered a temporary halt to the Russian military operation in Ukraine in anticipation of talks, but Kiev had refused to negotiate.
Kiev has rejected talks in the Belarusian city of Gomel after the Russian delegation arrived at the venue for negotiations with the Ukrainians on Sunday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed that it was Kiev that proposed Gomel as a place for negotiations with Russia. Nonetheless, Russia is ready for talks and is "waiting for the Ukrainians," the Kremlin spokesman added.
Peskov had announced that the Russian delegation, consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and other departments, including the presidential administration, arrived in Belarus for negotiations with the Ukrainians.
"We will be ready to start these negotiations in Gomel," he told reporters.
However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky published a video address on his Telegram channel, saying that Kiev was rejecting Belarus as a platform for talks, claiming that missiles are being launched from the territory of the republic into Ukraine. He also suggested a number of other cities where the Ukrainian side would be ready to meet, including Warsaw, Istanbul and Baku, among others.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said that Minsk has prepared everything necessary for the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Gomel.
Shortly thereafter, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stressed that no missiles are being launched towards Ukraine, and there are no Belarusian soldiers, armaments or ammunition in Ukraine, because Russia doesn't need such help. He previously said that Minsk was not going to get involved in the war, but was ready to render all the necessary support to Russia as its ally.
Volodymyr Zelensky called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to sit down at the negotiating table earlier this week. Peskov said that Russia was ready to send its delegation to Minsk for negotiations with Ukraine, with President Putin halting the special military operation in Ukraine in anticipation of talks. However, the Ukrainian side later refused to hold talks.
On 21 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees recognising the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics and early on the morning of 24 February, Russia launched a military operation to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine. In a televised address to fellow citizens, Putin said that circumstances “require decisive and immediate action,” as the Donbass republics asked for help.
In turn, the Russian Defence Ministry stressed that the Russian Armed Forces haven't launched any strikes on the cities of Ukraine: military infrastructure was disabled by high-precision means. The civilian population, as the ministry has repeatedly emphasised, was not in danger.
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