MOSCOW, February 27: Russia said on Sunday that, after some back-and-forth, Ukraine agreed to dispatch a team to Belarus for talks to end the Russian military campaign in the country.
Kiev confirmed the planned talks in Gomel Region, which is close to the borders of both Russia and Ukraine, Russian chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky told reporters.
Medinsky, an aide to President Vladimir Putin and former culture minister, added that the parties are now deciding on the logistics and the exact location of the summit, with “maximum security” for the Ukrainians. “We guarantee that the travel route will be 100% safe. We will be waiting for the Ukrainian delegation,” the Russian chief negotiator said. The Russian team arrived in Gomel on Sunday, where it said talks were planned with the Ukrainians. Kiev later said it wanted to negotiate on “neutral ground,” arguing that Russian troops were using Belarusian territory to stage attacks on Ukraine. Minsk, however, denied that its forces were participating in the Russian operation.
The Russians initially said their team would stay in Belarus until 3pm local time. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko over the phone, asking to move the deadline, according to Lukashenko’s spokeswoman, Natalia Eismont. She said the Belarusian leader then spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who agreed to move the planned negotiations to a later time.
Zelensky confirmed the call with Lukashenko on social media, but has not commented on the talks. Moscow attacked its neighbour this week, arguing that it was defending the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke off from the eastern part of Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev. – DNA