Talks between Ukraine and Russia are confrontational but moving forward, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday, as the West plans to announce more sanctions against the Kremlin.
In an early morning address, Mr Zelensky remained hopeful about negotiations, which have yielded little since the invasion started.
“It’s very difficult, sometimes confrontational,” he said. “But step by step we are moving forward.”
A senior government adviser has warned Ukraine’s peace negotiators may not be prepared for belligerent KGB tactics of Russian counterparts.
Having failed to seize the capital Kyiv or any other major city with a swift offensive, Russia is waging a war of attrition that has reduced urban areas to rubble and prompted Western concern the conflict could escalate – even to a nuclear war.
Russia’s security policy dictates the country would use such weapons if its existence were threatened, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN.
Peskov said the campaign was going to plan and no one thought the operation would take just a few days.
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As war drags on, Ukrainian civilians continue to suffer
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s incursion into Ukraine has forced more than 3.5 million people to flee, brought the unprecedented isolation of Russia’s economy, and raised fears of wider conflict in the West.
The United Nations human rights office said it had recorded 953 civilian deaths and 1,557 injured since the invasion.
The Kremlin denies targeting civilians.
Millions have fled abroad, according to the UN, leaving Eastern Europe scrambling to provide them with care, schools and jobs.
Kyiv accused Moscow of deporting residents of Mariupol and separatist-held areas of Ukraine to Russia. This includes the “forcible transfer” of 2,389 children to Russia from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said.
Moscow denies forcing people to leave, saying it is taking in refugees.
Russian combat power declines below 90pc, US says
No one had ever thought the operation in Ukraine would take just a couple of days and the campaign was going to plan, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Western officials said Russian forces were stalled around Kyiv but making some progress in the south and east. Ukrainian fighters are repelling Russian troops in some places but could not roll them back, they said.
Russia’s combat power in Ukraine has declined below 90pc of its pre-invasion levels, a senior US defence official said. If confirmed, it would suggest heavy losses of weaponry and growing casualties.
Western concern conflict could escalate into nuclear war
Having failed to seize a major Ukrainian city with a swift offensive, Russia is waging a war of attrition that has reduced some urban areas to rubble and prompted Western concern that the conflict could escalate into a nuclear war.
Russia’s security policy dictates that the country would only use such weapons if its very existence were threatened, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN.
“If it is an existential threat for our country, then it (the nuclear arsenal) can be used in accordance with our concept,” he said.