Ukraine demanded an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian forces as its delegation arrived Monday for talks with Russia, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the European Union to grant his country immediate membership in the bloc.
Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia began at the Ukraine-Belarus border, with Zelenskyy’s office saying the Ukrainian side included Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.
Zelenskyy asked for a fast-track EU accession in a video message in which he also encouraged Russian troops to lay down their arms.
“Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing,” he said. “I’m sure it’s fair. I’m sure it’s possible.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he spoke with the Ukrainian leader by phone and “commended him for the bravery of the people and armed forces of Ukraine.”
“NATO allies are stepping up support with air-defense missiles, anti-tank weapons, as well as humanitarian and financial aid,” Stoltenberg tweeted.
Russia faced increased diplomatic and economic pressure Monday, the fifth day of its invasion, with the United Nations General Assembly due to hold an emergency session, Russia’s currency plunging to a record low and the addition of new sanctions against the country’s central bank
In handout photos provided by BelTA via Reuters, helicopters with members of the Ukrainian delegation land ahead of talks with Russian representatives in the Gomel region, Belarus, Feb. 28, 2022.