The first round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, the first of its kind since the outbreak of the war, ended in Belarus, at a time when the Kremlin announced its conditions for the possibility of stopping the war on Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that his country is preparing for the second round of negotiations when the Ukrainian Negotiating Committee returns and discusses what happened with it.
And the Ukrainian presidency had confirmed – earlier – that the main goal of the negotiations is an immediate ceasefire, and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine.
The Ukrainian president said that Russia’s bombing of Ukrainian cities would not make Kyiv acquiesce in the conditions set by Moscow for a truce.
Zelensky said – in a video clip posted on Facebook – that the first round of Russian-Ukrainian talks took place “in the wake of bombing and shooting attacks targeting our lands. I think that Russia is trying in this simple way to pressure Kyiv,” adding, “Do not waste your time.”
The Ukrainian president also called on Western countries to impose a no-fly zone for Russian planes, missiles and helicopters against the backdrop of the Russian bombing of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
The Kremlin declared that the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations should take place in a calm and silent atmosphere without clamor.
The head of the Russian negotiating delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, stated that his country is interested in quickly reaching an agreement with Ukraine, stressing the need for those negotiations to be in the interest of the parties to the conflict.
A statement issued by the Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that a solution in Ukraine “can only be achieved by recognizing Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea and cleansing the Ukrainian state of militarism and Nazism.”
The statement also stressed the guarantee of Ukraine’s neutral status, taking into account Russia’s legitimate interests in the field of security.
In return, the Ukrainian president signed a formal application to join the European Union, requesting that Ukraine be allowed to immediately obtain membership under a special procedure, as it is defending itself against the “invasion of Russian forces”.
In New York, a session of the United Nations General Assembly continues to discuss the Russian war on Ukraine, after the Security Council failed to take a decision on it due to Russia’s use of its veto.
During the session, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the attack on Ukraine defies international law, and that the crisis would have economic repercussions with a broad impact on everyone.
While several countries condemned the Russian war on Ukraine, Moscow demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities and come to the negotiating table.
expulsion of diplomats
In this context, the United States decided to expel 12 Russian diplomats, and the White House said that the decision to expel the diplomats from the Russian mission to the United Nations was due to their involvement in espionage activities, while Moscow considered the American decision to be a hostile act.
On the other hand, the Russian ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, condemned the US decision, and said – in a statement he posted on Facebook – “It is a hostile approach against our country.”
The Russian ambassador expressed his regret that “the US government has once again violated its obligations to ensure normal conditions for the work of foreign missions to the United Nations.
For his part, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebizia, responded to questions about whether his country would respond to the US move, saying, “Of course we will respond, but I am not the right person who can talk about it.”
In a related context, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced Germany’s decision to send weapons to the Ukrainian army. Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the German decision contradicts Berlin’s balanced line on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
Zakharova added that, like many times throughout history, weapons coming from Germany will be directed against Russian soldiers, and the Russian Foreign Ministry vowed that those who supply lethal weapons to Ukraine will bear the consequences.
And the French presidency announced that the Europeans and their allies are ready to impose additional sanctions on Russia, after a video meeting that included the leaders of France, the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland and Romania, in addition to representatives of the European Union and NATO (NATO).
The French presidency believed that the measures discussed in the meeting would open the way for targeting additional banks, more oligarchs (the ruling class) and even the Russian sovereign fund.
“Other sanctions will be imposed, this is a priority,” she said, because “the urgent matter is to increase the cost of war on President Vladimir Putin,” noting that the sanctions previously imposed cause more pain than the Russian president expected.
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, announced his intention to investigate any war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine.
The prosecutor said that the court had the right to investigate crimes committed in Ukraine since February 20, 2014.
The Prosecutor stressed that any person who commits such crimes – including by order, incitement or any other method – will be subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
Regarding the humanitarian situation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said that there are 520,000 Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries, and this number is increasing hour by hour.
Grandi, who was speaking via video link at an emergency session of the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, added that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are seeking refuge in neighboring countries, stressing that the current situation may be just the beginning of the crisis.
Grandi also expected the asylum of about 4 million Ukrainians, stressing that unless there is an immediate end to the conflict, the Ukrainians will continue to try to escape.