‘No handshake’ as Ukraine, Russia delegations meet for peace talks

LVIV/ISTANBUL, March 29 (Reuters) – Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine before dawn on Tuesday as Ukrainian and Russian negotiators met in Turkey for the first face-to-face talks in nearly three weeks, with Kyiv seeking a ceasefire without compromising on territory or sovereignty.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan welcomed delegations from both sides saying that “stopping this tragedy” was up to them.

Ukrainian television reported the talks had begun with “a cold welcome” and no handshake between the delegations.

Ukraine and the United States hold little hope of an immediate breakthrough. But the resumption of face-to-face talks is an important first step towards a ceasefire in a Russian invasion that is stalled on most fronts but inflicting horrible suffering on civilians trapped in besieged cities.

More than a month into the war, the biggest attack on a European nation since World War Two, more than 3.8 million people have fled abroad, thousands have been killed and injured, and Russia’s economy has been pummelled by sanctions.

In the besieged southern port city of Mariupol nearly 5,000 people have been killed, including about 210 children, according to figures from the mayor. Such figures cannot be verified.

Survivors have told harrowing tales of people dying from lack of medical treatment, bodies being buried wherever space could be found, and women giving birth in basements.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said of the talks in Turkey: “We are not trading people, land or sovereignty.”

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