The Speaker
Monday, 24 June 2024 – 08:50

Ukraine: Ukraine-Russia peace talks begin on the Belarusian border

Ukraine and Russia have just ended peace talks at the Ukraine-Belarus border, as explosions continue in Kyiv and Kharkiv.

As the war reaches its 5th day, Russia has failed to capture any major Ukrainian city, but has captured the small port-city of Berdiansk, and have the capital completely surrounded, according to the Mayor of Kyiv.

Both sides appear to have resorted to desperate methods as the war presses on.

After offering civilians weapons, and then instructing them to make Molotov cocktails, the Ukrainian administration is now offering freedom to prisoners with combat experience who are willing to fight against Russia. They also prohibited men aged between 18-60 from leaving the country.

Meanwhile, Russia has taken heavy losses, both of personnel and of tanks, although accurate numbers are not known. There have also been reports of Russian logistics dramatically failing, with armoured vehicles running out of fuel being abandoned on the side of the road, and Russian soldiers attempting to barter for food from Ukrainian civilians. Putin also placed his nuclear deterrent forces on “high alert” in the face of “NATO aggression”, a move that has been widely condemned.

Russian officials have previously said that the ball for a diplomatic resolution is firmly in Ukraine’s court, while Zelensky has said he is open to negotiating a “position of neutrality”.

Invitations to the peace-talks were originally declined by Ukraine due to Belarus being used as a launching point for parts of the invasion, but Ukraine later changed its position.

The Ukrainian delegation is expected to negotiate for “an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine”. However, the Ukrainian president does not believe that the meeting will conclude with any meaningful outcome.

Preceding the talks, President Zelensky said:

“I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try, so that later not a single citizen of Ukraine has any doubt that I, as president, tried to stop the war.”

Zelensky has also urged the EU to grant Ukraine immediate accession into the bloc, presumably to give Ukraine a stronger position to negotiate from and tie Ukraine more closely to European nations – the opposite outcome to the demands issued by Putin before the invasion.

However, the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) contains a mutual defence clause, similar to the commitments to mutual defence within Nato, making a rushed admission of Ukraine into the EU an unlikely step at this point in time, at risk for causing further escalation.

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