Russia and Ukraine resume negotiations as Moscow acknowledges its first casualties | International
On the eighth day of the Russian offensive against Ukraine, delegations from Kiev and Moscow will sit down again this Thursday at a dialogue table to try to reach a ceasefire. While the Russian Army besieges the heart of cities such as Kiev and Kharkov and bombs civilian areas, the Government of Volodímir Zelenski demands that Moscow stop the attacks in order to advance on the path of dialogue. The Kremlin, which has sharpened its offensive against the Ukrainian resistance, has not stopped the bombing. On the contrary, violence against civilian infrastructure has increased.
The Russian Ministry of Defense recognized this Wednesday for the first time an official number of its own victims: 498 dead and 1,597 wounded. Despite mounting Russian casualties, international observers have little hope that this second diplomatic attempt will lead to any resolution.
The meeting, which different sources point out will be held in Belarus, near the border with Ukraine, will be the second attempt to establish a diplomatic channel between Ukraine and Russia. The first, held on Monday, not only failed to reach an agreement, but in the middle of the meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin bombed the center of Kharkiv, the second most populous city in Ukraine, attacking residential buildings.
The security of the Ukrainian delegation will be carried out by the special services of the Belarusian authoritarian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko, according to Kiev, despite the fact that part of Putin's troops are entering from that country. A month ago Russia also began concentrating troops in Belarus to, supposedly, carry out joint military maneuvers with Minsk.
Putin's troops are not advancing as fast as the Kremlin hoped. The Ministry of Defense recognized for the first time an official number of casualties to deny "the incalculable losses" attributed to them by "Western disinformation." The 498 death toll, three times fewer than the Russian soldiers Ukraine claims to have eliminated, is nearly five times its total losses in Syria and underlines the level of resistance Moscow has encountered in Ukraine. In Syria, in addition, Russia sent paramilitaries, who are also suspected of infiltrating Ukrainian territory and waiting for the moment to intervene, according to the Ukrainian and US secret services.
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While the dialogue table is awaited, the human and economic cost of the war is immense: hundreds of civilian victims and one million refugees, figures that indicate that this will be the largest migration crisis since the end of the Second World War.
It seems unlikely that the sanctions that are already choking the Russian economy will push Moscow to agree to a ceasefire. Putin, who assures that he has the objective of "denazifying" Ukraine, wants the surrender of Kiev and the resignation of the Government. President Zelensky says he is open to talks about Ukraine's status as a neutral country (which would cut into its already distant chances of joining NATO), but that he will not back down.
Kiev also denounces war crimes by Russian forces. “Many of our cities and towns are now suffering from Russian terror,” said Oleksii Reznikov, the Ukrainian defense minister and head of the Kiev negotiating delegation. Zelensky says he has received "some signals" from Russia, increasingly isolated by the international community, but the outcome is uncertain.
“So far we don't have the result we would like. Russia has expressed her views, we ours to end the war. We received some signals”, commented this week the Ukrainian leader, who once again denounced the Russian attacks and Putin's fierceness against civilian areas and the siege of cities and towns. “Russia wants to press with that unwily method, but don't waste your time. That tactic doesn't work with us," Zelensky concluded.
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