Russia said Wednesday there is still no sign of a breakthrough in peace talks with Ukraine.
Ukraine presented a list of demands Tuesday at the start of negotiations in Istanbul, Turkey aimed at ending the 36-day war, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a press briefing. An aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the two sides discussed the terms of a possible cease-fire, along with international security guarantees for Ukraine during Tuesday’s session.
Ukrainian negotiators also proposed that Kyiv would adopt a neutral status in exchange for security guarantees, such as not joining NATO or other military alliances.
Peskov told reporters that Moscow welcomed the fact that Kyiv has presented a written statement of demands, but said Russia has not seen anything promising that would lead to a final agreement.
Meanwhile, local officials in Ukraine say Russian forces have continued artillery attacks on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv, despite a vow to reduce operations in those locations as a sign of goodwill.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk earlier Wednesday announced the two sides had agreed to open three evacuation corridors. Vereshchuk said one corridor would be used for the evacuation of the besieged city of Mariupol and delivery of humanitarian aid to Berdyansk, located about 84 kilometers south of Mariupol, another for the delivery of humanitarian aid to – and evacuation from – the city of Melitopol, and a third for a column of people traveling from from Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia.
Filippo Grandi , the head of the U.N.’s refugee agency, said Wednesday the number of Ukrainians who have fled their native land to escape what he called a “senseless war” has now exceeded 4 million people.
The U.N. says more than half of those who have left Ukraine since the start of the February 24 invasion have headed west into Poland.
Britain’s defense ministry says Russian military units fighting in Ukraine have been forced to return to Russia and Belarus to “reorganize and resupply” after suffering heavy losses fighting Ukrainian forces during the war.
“Such activity is placing further pressure on Russia’s already strained logistics,” the ministry said Wednesday in its latest intelligence report, “and demonstrates the difficulties Russia is having reorganizing its units in forward areas within Ukraine.”
The assessment comes a day after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russian troops will focus on the Donbas region in southeastern Ukraine, which includes the Russian-controlled areas of Luhansk and Donetsk. Shoigu claimed the shift in strategy was because Russia had largely accomplished the first stage of its “special military operation,” including degrading Ukraine’s military capacity.
But Britain’s military says Russia’s decision to focus on Luhansk and Donetsk “is likely a tacit admission that it is struggling to sustain more than one significant axis of advance.”
The U.S. State Department issued a new advisory Tuesday urging U.S. citizens either traveling to or residing in Russia to leave the country immediately. The advisory cites a number of factors, including “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, the singling out of U.S. citizens…by Russian government security officials including for detention,” as well as limited flights into and outside of Russia and the limited ability of the U.S. Embassy there to assist U.S. citizens.
The State Department designated Russia a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” nation on its travel advisory list shortly after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine.