Russia-Ukraine talks make some progress on corridors, Kyiv says

Russia expects another round of talks with Ukraine to take place in the very near future. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KYIV (AFP/REUTERS) - A third round of talks between delegations from Russia and Ukraine ended Monday (March 7) with Kyiv citing a small amount of progress on opening humanitarian corridors.

"We have achieved some small positive results concerning the logistics of humanitarian corridors," Kyiv's presidential advisor Mikhailo Podolyak tweeted after the talks ended in Belarus.

He said "intensive" consultations had continued on the main issues of securing a ceasefire in fighting in Ukraine.

But Russia's chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said in televised remarks that "our expectations from negotiations were not fulfilled".

"We hope that next time we will be able to take a more significant step forward," he added.

Medinsky said that he hoped that civilian escape routes would open Tuesday but stressed that it was too early to be sure.

"We hope that starting from tomorrow, these corridors will finally start working. The Ukrainian side has given its assurances," he said.

"But it's too early to talk about something positive yet." Another Russian delegate, Leonid Slutsky, the head of the parliament's foreign affairs committee, said: "We hope the talks will be swiftly continued."

"But we won't comfort ourselves with illusion that the finished result will be reached at the next step." During the second round of talks last week, Ukraine and Russia agreed to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians.

But earlier Monday Ukraine rejected Moscow's offer of humanitarian corridors from four Ukrainian cities that would lead to Russia and Belarus.

The Russian army said it was opening humanitarian corridors from the cities of Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy to allow civilians to escape.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russia's proposal was "not an acceptable option".

Ukrainian civilians "aren't going to go to Belarus and then take a plane to Russia," she said.

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The first round of talks was held on February 28, the fifth day of the Kremlin's offensive.

Russia expects another round of talks with Ukraine to take place in the very near future, a negotiator said.

"The next, fourth, round will take place in Belarus in the very, very near future," Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky told Russian state television.

"I will not name the exact date yet. It will be determined, perhaps tomorrow."

Follow The Straits Times' live coverage on the Ukraine crisis here.

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