'Immediate ceasefire, withdrawal of troops': Ukraine's demands to Russia

Russia-Ukraine war: The Ukrainian ambassador to India has said his country has suffered 'a lot of civilian casualties', and that at least 16 children have been killed so far
Ukrainian military forces walk in the small town of Severodonetsk, Donetsk region on February 27, 2022. (Photo by Anatolii STEPANOV / AFP)(AFP)
Ukrainian military forces walk in the small town of Severodonetsk, Donetsk region on February 27, 2022. (Photo by Anatolii STEPANOV / AFP)(AFP)
Updated on Feb 28, 2022 05:31 PM IST
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Ukraine on Monday demanded an 'immediate ceasefire' and the withdrawal of Russian troops from its territory, as a delegation arrived in the Belarussian town of Gomel for talks with Russia, which last week said it was ready for negotiations if Ukraine 'lays down arms'. These will be the first discussions between the two sides since the Kremlin launched its offensive against Ukraine last week, triggering fierce fighting and fears over the use of nuclear weapons.

There are questions over Belarus as the chosen 'neutral' ground, though, with its leader, President Alexander Lukashenko, seen as a pro-Russian figure. 

Belarus is already a staging ground for Russian invading forces and a top American intelligence officer was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the former Soviet country could join Russia in sending troops into Ukraine.

The talks are also taking place after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country's nuclear forces to remain on high alert in response to what he called 'aggressive statements' by leading NATO powers. Putin also accused Ukraine of wasting 'an opportunity' for negotiations after Moscow's invasion.

The peace meeting today will take place even as Russian forces continue their inexorable advance on Ukraine capital Kyiv and amid dogged resistance from other major cities like Kharkiv. 

EXPLAINED: What prompted Russia, Putin's invasion of Ukraine

There is also increased pressure on Russia from stricter sanctions imposed by the United States and other nations, including restrictions on the country's banking system that caused the ruble to drop by a massive 30 per cent as Russians rushed to trade them in for American dollars.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian ambassador to India - Dr Igor Polikha - said his country had suffered 'a lot of civilian casualties'. He told reporters in Delhi that at least 16 children had also been killed so far.

The UN human rights chief was quoted by AFP as saying there were 102 confirmed civilian deaths and at least seven of those were children.

Earlier on Monday Ukraine military officials told AFP the pace of the Russian offensive had slowed. The US has, however, warned that the far stronger invading forces would soon adapt to counter Ukrainian resistance.

Russia has already claimed air superiority; its defence ministry said civilians in Kyiv could 'leave along the Kyiv-Vasylkiv highway… is open and safe'.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has added to his growing legend by delivering a defiant ultimatum to invading Russian soldiers, telling them to 'save your lives and leave'. 

WATCH: 'Lost' Russian troops ask for directions, Ukrainians surround tank

He reportedly also offered a 'get out of jail' card for Russian prisoners of war, telling them they would be released if they agreed to join the Ukraine military.

Zelensky has also called on the European Union to grant Ukraine immediate accession to the 27-member bloc; doing so will effectively pull the EU into the conflict.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has said western countries are stepping up support to Ukraine by offering weaponry - air defence missiles and anti-tank weapons - as well as humanitarian and financial aid. However, there is still no offer of troops on the ground from the allies.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine will be the subject of an emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly today. A vote to hold such a session was passed by an overwhelming majority after a UN Security Council resolution seeking to condemn Russia was vetoed (by Russia) last week.

With input from AP, ANI, AFP



    Chandrashekar Srinivasan is a Senior Editor at Hindustan Times. A journalist with 11+ years across print and digital media, he also has degrees in Sociology and Economics. He has worked in the political, business, sports, and entertainment news spaces, but is happiest just watching football.

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