By Jack Phillips
The fourth round of negotiations between Ukrainian and Russian delegations on a possible ceasefire has been paused until Tuesday, said an adviser to the Kyiv government on Monday.
“A technical pause has been taken in the negotiations until tomorrow,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, the adviser, in a Twitter post. “For additional work in the working subgroups and clarification of individual definitions. Negotiations continue.”
A day earlier, Russian and Ukrainian officials said that there appeared to be signs of a possible deal on a ceasefire in the near future, although few details were provided. The previous round of negotiations yielded few results.
“According to my personal expectations, this progress may grow in the coming days into a joint position of both delegations, into documents for signing,” Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky, a member of the Duma, told state-run media on Sunday. Podolyak, meanwhile, said that Moscow “started to talk about something and not just throw out ultimatums.”
Amid Monday’s talks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky separately announced that he plans to give a virtual address to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday. He’s expected to again call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, although top officials in the Biden administration and NATO have repeatedly poured cold water over that suggestion.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, meanwhile, said that Western countries need “to help us fight. Provide us with all necessary weapons. Apply more sanctions on Russia and isolate it fully. Help Ukraine force [Russia] into failure and you will avert a larger war.”
Since the start of the conflict on Feb. 24, more than 2.8 million people have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries including Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Russia, and more, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency.
“People continue to flee the war in Ukraine every minute,” the agency wrote on Twitter Monday, adding that they need “continued support.”
Before the talks were held, air raid alerts sounded in cities and towns around the country early on Monday morning as Ukrainian officials said that Russian forces shelled several suburbs of the capital, Kyiv.
Through state-run Sputnik News, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia said Monday that Moscow believes Ukrainian forces are “actively preparing for provocations with the use of chemical substances in order to accuse Russia of reportedly using chemical weapons,” adding that “Ukrainian nationalists transported to Zolochiv to the northwest of Kharkov about 80 tons of ammonia.”
Neither Ukrainian nor U.S. officials issued public comments on the recent Russian claim of a chemical false flag attack. Previously, the White House has said the allegations are “preposterous” and “total nonsense,” and they have said that it is Moscow that is preparing to use chemical weapons.
“Allegedly, we are preparing a chemical attack,” Zelensky said late last week. “This makes me really worried because we’ve been repeatedly convinced: If you want to know Russia’s plans, look at what Russia accuses others of.”