On the eighth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, delegations from Kyiv and Moscow met on Thursday to discuss the conflict. The meeting – the second to be held since the beginning of the offensive – did not achieve a ceasefire, but both sides did agree to open humanitarian corridors.
“The second round of negotiations is over. Unfortunately, the results Ukraine needs are not yet achieved. There is a solution only for the organization of humanitarian corridors,” Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.
What is yet to be decided is whether there will be a temporary ceasefire to allow for the evacuations of civilians. “That is, not everywhere, but only in those places where the humanitarian corridors themselves will be located, it will be possible to ceasefire for the duration of the evacuation,” said Podolyak, according to Reuters.
The Russian delegation, however, did not commit to a temporary ceasefire during the evacuations. “The main issue we decided on today was the issue of saving people, civilians, who are in the zone of military clashes,” said Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation.
The second round of talks took place in Gomel in southeastern Belarus, with the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, acting as mediator. As the delegations sat down to discuss the conflict, Russia continued to attack the heart of Ukrainian cities such as Kyiv and Kharkiv, striking civilian areas. The Ukrainian government called on Moscow to stop the offensive in order to advance dialogue. But Russia, which has come up against staunch resistance from the civilian population in Ukraine, did not stop the bombing, but rather intensified its attacks on key infrastructure.
The Russian Defense Ministry released on Thursday the first official death toll from the invasion: 489 victims and 1,597 injured. However, according to Ukraine, the number of fallen Russian troops is three times higher.
The meeting on Wednesday was the second attempt to try to establish a diplomatic channel between Russia and Ukraine. The first meeting, which took place on February 28, not only did not reach an agreement, but during the middle of the talks, Russia bombed the center of Kharkiv, the second-most populous city in Ukraine, and a residential apartment building was hit in the attack.