Russia-Ukraine peace talks begin as war enters 5th day

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‘We ask the European Union for Ukraine’s immediate accession,’ President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says in a video.

Negotiators from Kyiv and Moscow began peace talks at the Belarus border on Monday at noon local time, while fierce fighting continued as Russia maintained its assault on Ukraine.

Kyiv’s delegation, led by Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, is seeking “an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine,” according to a statement from the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

As the fifth day of war dawned, air raid sirens sounded around the country and strikes were reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhzhia and Chernihiv, amid deep concern after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday put his nuclear forces on high alert.

Russian ground forces have taken control of the town of Berdyansk on the Black Sea coast between the Crimean peninsula and the Russian-backed breakaway region of Donbas, defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed Monday morning. Russian-backed forces in the eastern breakaway regions have also advanced. But Ukraine’s armed forces on Monday said they continued to hold Kyiv, along with other major cities.

In a new video posted on Telegram on Monday, Zelenskyy said 16 Ukrainian children had been killed and 45 wounded as a result of Russia’s offensive.

“When I ran for the presidency, I said each of us is the president,” Zelenskyy said. “And now, each of us is a warrior.”

Zelenskyy also announced he would release prisoners with combat experience if they wished to fight for Ukraine, to “compensate their guilt.”

The Ukrainian president also called for the EU to immediately allow his country to join. “We ask the European Union for Ukraine’s immediate accession under a new special procedure,” he said.

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