Ukraine and Russia started their second round of talks today in Belarus, agreeing on evacuation corridors for civilians, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said the military advance, now in its second week, was going as per plan.
Here’s a 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
- Ukraine and Russia agreed on “humanitarian corridors” for the evacuation of civilians from destroyed or constantly shelled villages and cities at the talks.
- Ukraine was also set to demand an immediate ceasefire, armistice and, presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak said. Neither side suggested it was expecting breakthroughs after the first round of talks held in Belarus on Monday made no progress.
- At least 22 bodies have been recovered from the rubble in the wake of Russian airstrikes in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region, the Ukrainian emergency services said in an online post.
- Vladimir Putin vowed to continue fighting against what he described as “nationalists” in Ukraine, according to a readout of a call with French leader Emmanuel Macron, which added that attempts to slow conflict talks would “only lead to additional demands on Kyiv in our negotiating position”.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he will work to rebuild Ukraine after the war, indicating a resistance phase would come next if Russian forces manage to completely take hold of Ukraine. “We have nothing to lose but our own freedom,” Mr Zelenskiy said, adding Ukraine was receiving daily arms supplies from its international allies.
- Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Western politicians of considering nuclear war. “I would like to point out that it’s in the heads of Western politicians that the idea of a nuclear war is spinning constantly, and not in the heads of Russians,” Mr Lavrov told Russian and foreign media.
- On the ground, Russian forces have taken the Black Sea port of Kherson in southern Ukraine, the first major city to fall after a string of setbacks for Moscow. They also pound and encircle the strategic port city of Mariupol, which is without water or electricity.
- The UN has opened a probe into alleged war crimes, as the Russian military bombards cities in Ukraine with shells and missiles, forcing civilians to take shelter in basements.
- The EU is expected to rapidly approve a protection mechanism for war refugees fleeing Ukraine — so far numbered at one million — and to also set up a humanitarian hub in Romania, officials said.
- The moves by the European Union came in parallel to its muscular sanctions on Russia imposed in successive waves over the course of the invasion, now in its eighth day.