Negotiators from Kyiv and Moscow are poised to meet for talks near Ukraine’s border with Belarus, authorities confirmed on Sunday.
Ukrainian president’s Constitutional Court representative Fedor Venislavsky told the country’s parliamentary TV channel Rada that the negotiations are set to begin on Sunday night after the Kyiv delegation changed its route “due to security reasons”.
“To ensure the maximum safety of our delegation, they have taken a route that avoids any threat to their lives and that keeps their location unknown,” Venislavsky said.
The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier that a delegation will be sent to meet with Russian diplomats on the Belarusian border as Moscow’s forces draw nearer to Kyiv.
In a later video address, Zelenskyy said that he agreed to the talks after a conversation with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenka, who assured him of the safety of the Ukrainian side.
However, he expressed his doubts that a diplomatic solution to the war can be reached at the talks.
“I will say this frankly, as always: I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try.”
Zelenskyy added that he said yes to the talks “so that no citizen of Ukraine would have any doubts” that he tried to stop the war through diplomatic means “no matter how small the chance”.
Russian diplomats were sent to Belarus to await peace talks. The Ukrainian government initially rejected the invitation to travel to Belarus, where Russia has stationed a significant number of troops.
They said, however, that they would be willing to open dialogue at another neutral venue.
Putin’s nuclear arsenal on ‘special regime’
The development follows earlier news that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered his country’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers and increasing sanctions.
At a meeting with his top officials, the Russian President instructed the defence minister and the chief of the military’s general staff to put nuclear forces in a “special regime of combat duty.”
“Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country,” Putin said in a televised address.
Earlier this week, the Russian leader threatened to retaliate harshly against any nations that intervened directly in the conflict in Ukraine.
Putin gave a stern warning to any nations who intervene in the ongoing conflict that “the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history”.