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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Kremlin: Russia Paused Military Op for Talks, but Ukraine Rejected Negotiations

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Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a temporary halt to the Russian military operation in Ukraine on Friday afternoon in connection with the expectation of negotiations with Kiev, but the operation was resumed Saturday afternoon after the Ukrainian leadership refused to talk, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

“Yesterday afternoon, in connection with the expected negotiations with the Ukrainian leadership, the Russian president and supreme commander ordered the suspension of the advance of the main forces,” Peskov said, speaking to reporters on Saturday. “Since the Ukrainian side essentially refused to negotiate, the advance of the main Russian forces resumed this afternoon in accordance with the operational plan,” he added.

Peskov clarified that the halt in the advance did not lead to a stop in localized fighting, with hostilities continuing across a number of areas.

“There were clashes with mobile groups of nationalists and Banderites, who used light vehicles and trucks fitted with weapons on the principle of ‘jihad mobiles’, only there they are now called ‘Bandera mobiles’,” the spokesman said.

Ukraine to ‘Dictate’ Peace Talks’ Terms

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invited Putin to “sit down at the negotiating table to stop the death of people” on Friday.
The Kremlin responded with a willingness to send a delegation of high-ranking officials to Minsk, Belarus for talks. The Belarusian capital previously served as an agreed-upon neutral zone for negotiations aimed at ending the civil war in eastern Ukraine.

However, on Saturday, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mikhail Podolyak said that Kiev has rejected negotiations with Russia for the time being because the conditions were not right.

“Any war ends with a negotiation process, but I think that the positions in this negotiations process will be different. These will be positions that Ukraine will dictate. It will set the conditions for what will happen next, including in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions,” Podolyak said.

“It was an attempt to force us to surrender,” Arestovich said.

Lukashenko Calls for Immediate Talks

On Saturday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reiterated his readiness to immediately provide Russia and Ukraine with a platform for peace talks.

“We are open. They can come today. We will provide everything needed and help in this regard to prevent a war and slaughter. It is still a conflict for now, a conflict in the inflammation stage. It has to be stopped. You know our stance. I spoke about it on the first day,” Lukashenko said.

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