Ukraine delegation has arrived for peace talks with Russia at the Belarus border.
Russia and Ukraine were preparing Monday for their first talks since Moscow’s invasion, as fighting raged and Western-led sanctions started to bite with the ruble collapsing.
Ukraine said Sunday it had agreed to send a delegation to meet Russian representatives on the border with Belarus, which would be the foes’ first public contact since war erupted.
Belarus announced Monday that the venue for the talks had been prepared and they would start as soon as the delegations arrived.
However, with his government reporting hundreds of civilian deaths and Russian troops besieging key cities, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was sceptical about the talks.
“As always: I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try,” he said.
Russia invaded on Thursday and quickly announced it had neutralised key military facilities, but fierce fighting has since raged and Ukraine forces are reporting some success.
The Russian occupiers have reduced the pace of the offensive,” the general staff of the Ukraine armed forces said.
The United States has also said that Ukraine forces, backed by Western arms, are stymieing the advance of Russian troops.
Putin on Sunday ordered Russia’s nuclear forces onto high alert in response to what he called “unfriendly” steps by the West. Russia has the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and a huge cache of ballistic missiles.
The United States, the world’s second largest nuclear power, slammed Putin’s order as “totally unacceptable”.
Germany said Putin’s nuclear order was because his offensive had “halted” and was not going to plan.