Russia and Ukraine Hold Talks in Belarus

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Delegations from Russia and Ukraine began talks in southeastern Belarus on Monday with only modest hopes for a breakthrough that could end fighting that started when Russian forces invaded Ukraine last week.

Ukraine initially rejected attending talks in Belarus because Russian forces stationed there have joined the invasion. But then Ukrainian officials agreed to send a delegation to the meeting in Gomel, a city near the borders of Russia and Ukraine. “You can feel absolutely safe,” Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei of Belarus told the delegates at the start of the meeting. “Any request or proposal you may have about today’s meeting will be taken into account and action.”

Video from Belarus’s official news agency showed a handful of delegates from each side sitting down on opposite sides of a long table. The flags of Russia and Ukraine, in addition to that of Belarus, stood at the head of the table while smaller flags on the table denoted each side.

A photograph released by Belarus showed Ukrainian delegates arriving in a military helicopter for the talks. The Ukrainian delegation included the defense minister and deputy foreign minister, while Russia’s delegation was being led by Vladimir R. Medinsky, an adviser to President Vladimir V. Putin.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said before the meeting that he expected little to come from the talks. He declined to agree to any conditions or concessions before discussions.

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