Russian President Vladimir Putin has told his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on Monday that the demilitarisation of Ukraine and Western recognition of Russian sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula were prerequisites to ending fighting in Ukraine.

In a Kremlin readout, Putin stressed that a settlement is possible only if Russia’s legitimate security interests are unconditionally taken into account, including the recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the demilitarisation and denazification of the Ukrainian state, and ensuring its neutral status.

Macron, however, urged the Russian leader to spare civilian lives.

AFP disclosed that Ukrainian and Russian officials have ended a first round of talks to discuss a ceasefire and the delegations are returning to their respective capitals for consultations.

Meanwhile, the United Nations, UN, General Assembly held a rare emergency special session on Monday on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Also on Monday, the UN Security Council held a meeting on the humanitarian impact of the invasion. At least 325 civilians, including 14 children, had been killed since the start of the invasion, according to Ukraine’s Health Ministry.

More than 500,000 Ukrainians have already fled the conflict, mostly to Poland and Moldova, according to the UN refugee agency.

Russia had called its actions in Ukraine a “special operation,” that was not designed to occupy territory, but to destroy its Southern neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.


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