Peace talks are still underway between Russia and Ukraine with the second round of negotiations taking place yesterday (March 3).
Currently, no ceasefire agreement has been decided on between the two sides, leaving the war to rage on. Russian and Ukrainian delegations had gathered in the Brest region of Belarus to begin the second round of peace talks.
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But, afterwards, Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, tweeted: “The second round of negotiations is over. Unfortunately, the results Ukraine needs are not yet achieved.” While a third round of talks have provisionally been agreed, the war continues.
What does Russia want?
It does not seem likely that Russia will de-escalate its attack anytime soon, as its troops close in on Kyiv. Russia’s foreign minister stated that Russia will continue to insist that any agreement with Ukraine must result in the demilitarization of the country.
Russia has also hinted that it wants Ukraine to adopt a neutral status and halt all efforts to join NATO.
Prior to the meeting, Podolyak stated on Twitter that Ukraine’s main priorities in the peace talks are an “immediate ceasefire” and “humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians.”
While a ceasefire is yet to be agreed upon, Podolyak tweeted that the talks did lead to a “solution only for the organization of humanitarian corridors” – a small but significant step in trying to save some of the lives of his countrymen.
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However, Friday brought yet more news of attacks and deaths. In the early hours of Friday morning (March 4), it was confirmed by Ukrainian authorities that a fire broke out in a training building outside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after intense shelling by the Russians.
The report was confirmed by Ukraine’s foreign minister at 2.30am who tweeted that the Russian army was “firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broken out.”
There has been no release of radioactive material at the Ukrainian nuclear plant, but the attack caused international outcry, with the Norwegian Prime Minister calling the move “in line with madness”. However, Russia – who claimed control of the base – have continued to bombard other cities, killing dozens in Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, on Friday amid reports of troops also entering Mykolayiv.
While it is not yet known the intricacies of the talks between the two countries, the option of a ceasefire seems remote at this stage. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky noted that he has no interest in demilitarizing the country.
In a news conference, he warned Russia: “You will repay everything you did against Ukraine – in full. And we will not forget those who perished – and God won’t.”
Meanwhile, Putin said in a televised meeting of his National Security Council on Thursday that his “special military operation is going strictly in accordance with the schedule, with the plan.”
“All objectives are being successfully attained,” I added.
And, although diplomatic ties are still open, with President Putin speaking to French President Macron on Thursday, the talks did not bring the prospect of a ceasefire any closer. Instead, the Russian President insisted that he plans to take ‘all of Ukraine’.
The French warned following the 90 minute call that the ‘worst is yet to come.’
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.