News of the planned meeting was reported by Reuters, which cited information published by Tass, Russia’s state media agency. Tass noted comments from an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and said the talks will take place in Belarus.
Officials from the two countries also met on the Belarus border on Monday, but those talks seemed to yield no progress. Zelenskyy said earlier this week that further meetings and a possible cease-fire would require Russian forces to “at least stop bombing people,” according to Reuters.
But the bombing hasn’t stopped yet. Russia’s ground advance into Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has been halted. But more missile strikes hit the city on Wednesday, The Kyiv Independent reports. This comes after Russian attacks had already intensified with a new push against civilian areas and government buildings thought to be aimed at demoralizing the Ukrainian resistance.
The Associated Press reported that Russian defense officials on Wednesday denied reports that their forces include conscripts, which U.S. officials confirmed in a Tuesday briefing that touched on low morale among the invading forces. A Defense Ministry spokesman said 498 Russian troops have been killed so far in the conflict and another 1,600 had been wounded. Some Western projections estimate the number to be far higher.
Also on Wednesday, the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly 141-5 to demand that Russia stop the invasion and withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
Photos: Ukraine Under Attack
Belarus – the reported location of talks between Russia and Ukraine – has remained under scrutiny amid reports that Belarusian forces are assisting Russia in Ukraine, and international officials are taking note. The European Union announced on Wednesday sanctions against Belarus for its supporting role in the invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Officials keep announcing new economic actions against Russia as well. President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address Tuesday night that he would ban Russian aircraft from U.S. airspace and appoint a task force to investigate crimes of Russian oligarchs, warning that America is coming for the elites’ “ill-begotten gains.”
Biden told reporters while departing the White House on Wednesday that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to additional sanctions against Russia, such as banning oil imports. He said “it’s clear” the Russians are deliberately targeting civilian areas in Ukraine, according to a pool report, but added that it is “early to say that” Russia has committed war crimes.