Lviv, Ukraine, Mar 14 (EFE).- The fourth round of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine began Monday with communication proving “hard,” the Ukrainian delegation said, as intense fighting continued on several fronts.
“The parties actively express their specified positions. Communication is being held yet it’s hard,” Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukrainian presidential adviser said on Twitter.
“The reason for the discord is too different political systems,” he continued, saying “Ukraine is a free dialogue within the society and an obligatory consensus” while Russia engages in “suppression of its own society.”
Russia has not yet confirmed the start of the latest round of negotiations, the fourth to be held in person in Belarus close to the Polish border since president Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion on February 24.
Ahead of the meeting, Kyiv announced that it would repeat its demand of a cease-fire and the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.
“The positions of the Ukrainian delegation before the fourth round of negotiations with Russian representatives on Monday remain unchanged, and Kyiv will demand above all a ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukrainian territory,” Podolyak said.
Moscow has said it wants the demilitarization of Ukraine and a pledge that it will remain neutral and not join Nato, as well as recognition of the pro-Russian breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine and acknowledgement of Crimea as part of Russia.
At least 23 people were killed and 20 wounded in an attack by Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk region in the east of the country, Russian media reported on Monday citing sources from the separatist authorities in the affected areas.
Ukraine, meanwhile, said at least one person had been killed and three others wounded when a residential apartment building in Kyiv was struck by Russian shells.
The United Nations’ human rights office said last week that at least 564 civilians, including 41 children, had died in Ukraine since the invasion began, while Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Saturday that around 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed. EFE