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Putin-Zelensky talks would be ‘counterproductive’ – Russian FM

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Abramovich, Ukraine negotiators ‘poisoned’
Ukrainian forces recapture key town outside Kyiv
Fresh attempt to assassinate Ukranian President foiled, claims media
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meeting in Paris in 2019.

RUSSIA,UKRAINE: Direct talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy would be “counterproductive”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday, as delegations prepared for Turkey-hosted talks on Moscow’s military operation.

President Putin “has said he has never refused to meet President Zelenskyy. The only thing that he considers fundamentally important is for these meetings to be well prepared”, Minister Lavrov said in televised comments to journalists, after Zelenskyy called for a meeting with his Russian counterpart.

Lavrov said the current crisis has “been brewing so long, all these years, that a huge number of problems have built up, therefore just meeting and exchanging views on what you think and I think, that would just be counterproductive now”. Zelenskyy and Putin have met only once, at talks in Paris in 2019. As the countries are set to resume in-person peace talks in Istanbul, Lavrov said Moscow maintains its demands for demilitarisation and “denazification” in Ukraine.

Putin has named these as Moscow’s military goals, as well as for Ukraine to have neutral status.

“Both the demilitarisation and the denazification of Ukraine are an essential component of the agreements that we are trying to achieve,” Lavrov said.

Meanwhile, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning after a meeting in Kyiv, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The report was corroborated by open source investigations (OSINT) collective Bellingcat after one of its investigators was asked to help provide an examination by chemical weapons specialists.

“Three members of the delegation attending the peace talks between Ukraine and Russia on the night of 3 to 4 March 2022 experienced symptoms consistent with poisoning with chemical weapons. One of victims was Russian entrepreneur Roman Abramovich,” said a tweet by the group.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces on Monday recaptured the town of Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv from invading Russian troops.“We have good news today — Irpin has been liberated,” said the town’s mayor, Oleksandr Markushyn.

A senior US defense official said the Ukrainians were “continuing to try to take back ground,” and the eastern town of Trostyanets, south of Sumy, was also back in their hands.

Meanwhile, A leading Ukrainian newspaper on Monday claimed that a second attempt to assassinate Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy had been foiled. According to The Kyiv Post, a group of 25 people led by the Russian special services was captured near the Slovakia-Hungary border. “Their goal was the physical elimination of the Ukrainian president,” the newspaper tweeted.

On March 4, The Times had reported that Zelenskyy dodged three assassination attempts in the last week of February. The report had claimed that two different outfits were roped in to eliminate Zelenskyy. The outfits comprised the mercenaries of the Kremlin-backed Wagner group and the Chechen special forces.



Wednesday, March 30, 2022 – 01:00

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