Ukraine sets ceasefire goal for new Russia talks

Kiev: Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine before dawn on Tuesday as Ukrainian and Russian negotiators prepared to meet in Turkey for face-to-face talks, with Kyiv seeking a ceasefire without compromising on territory or sovereignty.

Ukraine and the United States hold little hope of a breakthrough at the meeting, the first direct talks between the two sides in more than two weeks, even though Russia’s invasion appeared to have stalled on several fronts.

More than a month into the war, the biggest attack on a European nation since World War Two, more than 3.8 million people have fled abroad, thousands have been killed and injured, and Russia’s economy has been pummelled by sanctions.

In the besieged southern port city of Mariupol nearly 5,000 people have been killed, including about 210 children, according to figures from the mayor. Reuters was unable to immediately verify the numbers.

Survivors have told harrowing tales of people dying from lack of medical treatment, bodies being buried wherever space could be found, and women giving birth in basements. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said of the talks in Turkey: We are not trading people, land or sovereignty.

The minimum programme will be humanitarian questions, and the maximum programme is reaching an agreement on a ceasefire,” he said on national television. A senior U.S. State Department official said Russian President Vladimir Putin did not appear ready to make compromises to end the war.

Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said that he doubted there would be any breakthrough. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said talks so far had not yielded any substantial progress but it was important they continued in person. He declined to give more information.