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Putin greenlights peace talks with Zelensky

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh,

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has “finally agreed” he will need to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in person to resolve the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The two leaders had let their diplomatic teams conduct peace talks on a neutral ground shortly after the start of the conflict on February 24. BBC correspondent Lysa Doucet said the Russian President is now believed to have accepted he will have to attend negotiations himself “at some point.”

Ukraine accused Russia of ‘war crimes’ amid the bombing of an art school and theatre in Mariupol where civilians were sheltering. Putin has come to terms with the fact that he will have to lead the negotiations at some time in the future with President Zelensky who has been asking for a meeting since January.

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‘He hasn’t said it in public. e says quite the opposite in public.’ Zelensky yesterday declared that Russia will ‘go down in history for war crimes’ and deplored the invaders’ bombardment and siege of southern port city Mariupol, which has for weeks been pounded by air strikes and missiles.

‘To do this to a peaceful city… is a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come,’ Zelensky said. He added that peace talks with Russia are imperative despite being ‘not easy and pleasant’.

Mariupol, a key connection to the Black Sea, has been a target since the start of the war on February 24, when Putin launched what he calls a ‘special military operation’ to demilitarise and ‘denazify’ Ukraine.

Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression, the UN human rights office said at least 847 civilians had been killed and 1,399 wounded in Ukraine as of Friday.

The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said 112 children have been killed. Russia has also bombarded an art school and a theatre where hundreds of civilians had been sheltering from air strikes.

Satellite images, released on Saturday, showed the collapsed remains of the theatre where more than 1,300 people, including women and babies, are still feared trapped. Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna said that her nation will not surrender any territory to Russia in future peace talks.

Ukrainian territory is a territory which has been fixed in 1991, she said. Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister speaking, “Within its entirety and internationally recognised border, it’s not only the position of Ukraine, it’s the position of the whole world enshrined in numerous decisions of the UN Security Council so that is not an option for discussion.

“Of course, there might be room for discussion on the reintegration of those territories that have been under occupation for the last eight years, I can say that the feeling of political priority is still there, but the ultimate agenda of today is the ceasefire and the security guarantees”.

Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna said she believed genocide is being committed against Ukrainian people. “I absolutely believe it is a genocide. I am a lawyer myself and I commit myself to implementation of the decision”, she declared She also referred to the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, which has urged Russia to ‘immediately suspend the military operations’ it began on February 24 in Ukraine.

“We know that the words of the ruling, the orders, mean nothing to the Russian Federation, but it’s not something I presume or anybody else presumes, this is the reality.

Putin and the Kremlin are the worst criminals”.she said They commit the worst crimes and they’re doing a targeted attempt on the Ukrainian population, it’s not a question, it’s simply the reality we are all facing in the 21st century Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government has tried accordingly to maintain neutrality on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, citing Israel’s warm ties with both countries and the need to preserve security coordination with Russian troops operating in Syria.

But several demonstrations have been held in Israel to condemn the invasion, and Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai announced the municipality will screen Zelensky’s speech live in the heart of the city.

While walking a cautious diplomatic line, Mr Bennett has sought to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, holding regular phone calls with Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, including a three-hour meeting with Putin at the Kremlin on March 5.

Some Ukrainian officials have voiced criticism over Israel’s efforts at neutrality, while thanking Mr Bennett for his mediation efforts. Israel has provided humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, but so far ruled out sending military hardware to the embattled country, The Trumpet gathered.

The country has also not joined Western sanctions against Russia. Roman Abramovich, a prominent oligarch allegedly close to Putin who owns Chelsea Football Club and has been hit by sanctions, holds Israeli citizenship and reportedly visited the country last week. Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who unlike Bennett has explicitly condemned the invasion, pledged that Israel ‘will not be a route to bypass sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and other Western countries’.

Nearly 14,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Israel since the war began. Air Marshal Philip Osborn also told Ridge that Russian forces are ‘demoralised because they were poorly prepared and proven to be inadequate’ and are now stalled because they have ‘lost momentum’.

Mr Osborn added: “We are seeing them pull resources and manpower from across Russia, even from Syria, and that is not a good indication for a supposed superpower”.

“They are stalled because they are running out of options,’ he said, adding: ‘What is left to them now is to double down on brute force to put pressure on the Ukrainian government”.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has expressed fear that Mr Putin could be using the negotiations as a ‘smokescreen’ to prepare for an even more brutal assault. Elsewhere, Boris Johnson has urged China to get off the fence and join in global condemnation of Russia’s invasion.

The Prime Minister, in comments made to the Sunday Times, said he believes some officials in Xi Jinping’s administration are having second thoughts about the neutral stance adopted by Beijing following Russia’s actions against its neighbour,

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