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Ukraine Frustrated At ‘Low Level’ Russian Delegation As Ceasefire Talks Kick Off In Belarus

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Update(7:52am ET): "We were ready," said a Biden administration official of the series of sanctions and punitive measures it's now hitting Moscow with. The latest in the below breaking news includes extensions of prior US announced actions being taken against Russia:

  • U.S. BANS TRANSACTIONS WITH RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK
  • SENIOR BIDEN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL SAYS U.S. SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK WERE MONTHS IN THE PLANNING, 'WE WERE READY' U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK HAS BEEN ATTEMPTING TO BRING ASSETS TO RUSSIA, OTHER SAFE HAVENS SINCE SATURDAY'S SANCTIONS ANNOUNCEMENT
  • U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS TODAY'S ACTION TO PROHIBIT TRANSACTIONS WITH RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK WILL HINDER RUSSIA'S ABILITY TO ACCESS HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS
  • U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS COORDINATED ACTION WILL CAUSE WEAKENING OF RUSSIAN CURRENCY, MAKE FINANCING MORE DIFFICULT
  • U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS ALWAYS SAW RUSSIA'S $630BLN IN RESERVES AS INSURANCE POLICY, ACTION TODAY 'REMOVES THAT INSURANCE POLICY'
  • U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS ACTIONS BY U.S., ALLIES WILL PREVENT RUSSIA FROM USING ITS DOLLARS, EUROS, POUNDS OR YEN TO DEFEND ITS CURRENCY

And in another major announcement regarding Russian nuclear forces posture, Interfax reveals the following, though it's unclear precisely what the designation means:

RUSSIAN NUCLEAR FORCES PLACED ON ENHANCED COMBAT DUTY IN LINE WITH PUTIN ORDER – INTERFAX QUOTES DEFENCE MINISTRY

* * *

In the fifth day since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, talks have kicked off between a Ukrainian delegation and Kremlin delegation somewhere inside Belarus at a precise location that's being kept secret – though it's somewhere along the border. The Russians have not sent anyone top level from the Foreign Ministry, instead its delegation is reportedly headed by an aide to President Putin and former culture minister named Vladimir Medinsky.

Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei in welcoming the Ukrainian leadership assured the group they are "completely safe" and that it's Belarus' "sacred duty" to ensure it. Initial photos have come out of the meeting, which President Zelensky's office described as having the ultimate aim of achieving an immediate ceasefire and total withdrawal of Russian troops, however unlikely that remains at this moment.

"Dear friends, the President of Belarus asked me to welcome you and to provide everything for your work, as agreed with President Zelensky and President Putin. You may feel completely safe here. This is our sacred duty," Belarusian FM Makei introduced

"President Lukashenko sincerely hopes that, during today’s talks, it will be possible to find solutions to all the questions of this crisis. All Belarusians are praying for this. Any proposals, in terms of organizing today’s meeting, will be considered and absolutely fulfilled," Makei said. "We look forward to the results."

Zelensky has described the talks as occurring with "no preconditions" while also noting they were unlikely to produce results. Additionally as Bloomberg describes"The low profile of the Russian delegation, at deputy ministerial level, further weighed on expectations of any breakthrough."

The Ukrainian president said Sunday he "doesn’t really believe" there will be a breakthrough with the Russians, but expressed there could be "a chance, however small, to de-escalate the situation" - according to his words carried in regional media. 

Heavy fighting continued Monday as the talks kicked off, particularly in neighborhoods on the outskirts of Kiev, and in the cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv.

"They are fighting against everyone and everything alive, against kindergartens, against residential buildings and ambulances," Zelenskiy said of the Russians in a Sunday statement, which the Kremlin rejected, saying it is only targeting military sites and movements. 

And as for weekend reports that Kiev had been surrounded, which was widely reported due to statements attributed to the mayor of the capital city, Zelensky's office issued the following statement:  "Russians can only dream about it. Kyiv is completely controlled by the Ukrainian forces, arrivals to Kyiv are available. Yes, in some suburbs the confrontation continues, there were heavy battles. But we will not give up the capital."

Meanwhile on Monday the Vatican has offered "to facilitate" dialogue between Moscow and Kiev toward ending the war, with Vaitcan Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin saying "there is still and always room for negotiation. It is never too late." 

And in another breaking development, the United States as suspended the operations of its embassy in Minsk, Belarus – which also comes after this weekend the State Department began telling US nationals inside Russia to begin planning their departure given widespread European airspace closures around Russia.


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