MOSCOW, February 27 – RIA Novosti. The Russian delegation has already arrived in Belarus for talks with the Ukrainians, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
According to him, the delegation included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and other departments, including the presidential administration.
“The Russian side is already ready for negotiations in Gomel , now we are waiting for the Ukrainians,” Peskov told RIA Novosti.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry, for its part, noted that they had prepared everything necessary for the meeting and were now engaged in resolving protocol issues.
At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Minsk cannot become a negotiating platform.
“Now we are saying – not Minsk. <…>. Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku – we all offered this to the Russian side. And any other city suits us,” he said in a video message published on Telegram.
Peskov replied to this that Gomel was chosen by the Ukrainian side. He also promised that the head of the Russian delegation, presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, would make a statement soon.
“For our part, we warned the Ukrainian side that this time the activities envisaged by the course of the military operation would not be suspended – as it was done yesterday, which we informed you about the day before,” the spokesman said.
In recent weeks, the situation in the Donbass has seriously escalated : Kiev has concentrated most of the army on the line of contact and intensified shelling of the DPR and LPR , using equipment prohibited by the Minsk agreements.
Due to the threat of Ukraine ‘s invasion, the authorities of the republics began the evacuation of women, children and the elderly to the Russian regions, announced a general mobilization, and on February 19 asked Russia to recognize their independence.
Two days later, on February 21, Vladimir Putin signed decrees recognizing the sovereignty of the LPR and DPR, and on February 24 announced the start of a special operation. He assured that Moscow ‘s plans do not include the occupation of Ukraine , only its demilitarization and denazification.
The head of state called the goal of the operation the protection of the residents of the DPR and LPR, who have been subjected to genocide for eight years.
He also called on the Ukrainian military not to follow criminal orders, lay down their arms and go home. According to Putin, all responsibility for the bloodshed will be on the conscience of the Kiev regime.
The Ministry of Defense emphasized that they do not strike civilian targets on the territory of Ukraine – only military infrastructure; the civilian population is not in danger.