Peace talks begin but there’s little hope for ceasefire on day 34 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Written by Amy Beecham
The latest news from day 34 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On day 34 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, face-to-face peace talks are being held between negotiators in Istanbul, Turkey.
Ceasefire discussions previously took place on day four of the invasion on the Ukraine-Belarus border, but no agreements were reached and both sides have played down the chances of a major breakthrough today.
Over a month of shelling, airstrikes and on the ground fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has so far caused more than $500 billion (£383bn) in damages to Ukraine, according to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
Amid the truce talks, Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, has warned those negotiating with Russia not to eat or drink following the reported poisoning of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian negotiators earlier in the month.
In an interview with the Ykpaiha 24 news channel, translated by Sky News, Kuleba said: “I advise anyone going through negotiations with the Russian Federation not to eat or drink anything and preferably avoid touching any surface.”
What is happening in Ukraine right now?
The current official civilian death toll as a result of the invasion varies from between 900 to over 5,000.
While the crucial cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa remain under Ukrainian control, Russian forces have been said to be just 20 miles from Kyiv, with satellite images previously showing a 3.25-mile-long deployment of Russian forces advancing towards the city.
However, the UK Ministry of Defence has said Ukraine’s capital remains a target for Russian troops, though counter-attacks have met with some success.
“Russia still poses a significant threat to the city through their strike capability,” the intelligence update read. “Russian forces are maintaining blocking positions while attempting to reorganise and reset their forces.”
The port city of Mariupol in the south-east of Ukraine has been devastated by Russian shelling, with reports suggesting some 5,000 civilians have been forcibly relocated by Russian forces.
Videos circulating on social media have shown widespread destruction, with buildings decimated and streets left covered in shrapnel.
Liz Truss, the UK foreign secretary, accused Putin’s forces of abducting innocent civilians, describing the move as an “abhorrent tactic” after the Ukrainian human rights group ZMINA claimed to have identified dozens of individuals who had been abducted, with thousands more deported to Russia.
According to the Ukraine prosecutor general’s office, a total of 144 children have so far been killed and more than 220 injured as a result of Russia’s invasion.
Figures from the United Nations also suggest that over 70,000 children every day have become refugees since the war began and the total number of refugees from Ukraine has surpassed 3.8 million.
How did the war in Ukraine start?
On 24 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “specialised military operation” in the Donbas region in the south-east of the country, following reports of 190,000 troops and military vehicles stationed for weeks along the Russia/Ukraine border.
According to Putin’s state television address, the attack was motivated by the “protection of the people who for eight years suffered from abuse and genocide from the Kyiv regime”.
“Moscow has been left with no choice but to defend itself,” he told Russian citizens. “Whoever tries to stand in our way or create threats for our country and people should know Russia’s response will be immediate and lead you to consequences you have never encountered in your history.”
Major nations, including the UK and the United States, have continued to condemn the “appalling and unprovoked attack”.
In a statement, NATO condemned “in the strongest possible terms Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine – which is an independent, peaceful and democratic country, and a close NATO partner.
“The Alliance calls on President Putin to stop this war immediately, withdraw all his forces from Ukraine without conditions and engage in genuine diplomacy,” it said in a statement.
In response to the continued attacks, the United States and its allies are said to be working on new sanctions to hit a broader range of sectors across Russia’s economy, including those that are critical to sustaining its invasion of Ukraine, such as supply chains.
Along with pro-Ukrainian rallies held across the world, Russian activists and journalists speaking out against their country have had their homes vandalised by unknown pro-Kremlin figures.
Reports have been building of Russians opposing the war being targeted by law enforcement, with more than 2,000 arrests during protests at the beginning of the invasion.
Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian journalist who staged a protest against the war in Ukraine live on TV, also spoke out about her experience after she was detained for 14 hours and fined by police.
“It was my own anti-war decision,” she explained. “I made this decision by myself because I don’t like that Russia started this invasion.”
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