By Zachary Stieber
The second round of the Russia–Ukraine talks is scheduled to start on March 2, a Ukrainian official said.
Alexey Arestovich, advisor to the Ukrainian Presidential Office, told Hromadske TV that the meeting will take place later Wednesday with the same officials attending as those who were present during the first round of negotiations.
Ukraine will “hold its ground,” Arestovich said, Russia’s state-run TASS reported.
Citing a source, TASS said the negotiations will take place in the Białowieża Forest, which is located in Belarus.
The first round of talks took place in the Gomel region of Belarus, which shares borders with both Ukraine and Russia.
Ukraine is attempting to secure a deal that would include a ceasefire about a week after Russia invaded the neighboring country.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, told reporters in Kyiv that Russia’s demands remain unchanged from when Russian President Vladimir Putin essentially declared the war.
In an address just before the invasion, Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine. The Russian president said he wanted to “demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.”
Ukraine has described the invasion as unprovoked and many countries around the world have taken Ukraine’s side, sending it military assistance and imposing penalties against Russia and Russian officials.
Kuleba said Ukraine is “ready for talks, for diplomacy.”
“But we are not ready to accept any Russian ultimatums at all. When new talks will take place is unknown at the moment,” he added.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, said in Moscow that in the second part of March 2, Russia’s delegation “will be in place to await Ukrainian negotiators.”
“Our delegation will be ready today to continue the discussion. I won’t announce the place, you will find out it sooner or later, but I don’t want to do it ahead of time,” Peskov added.
The initial talks ended without immediate results, though both sides indicated some common ground was reached on certain points.
Russia shifted tactics on Tuesday, bombarding sites in Kyiv and Kharkiv, leaving dozens dead and many others wounded.
Igor Konashenkov, a Russian defense official, said Russia captured the port city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, hours after a senior U.S. defense official told reporters on a call that Russia was in control of Berdyans’k, another port city, and Melitopol, just off the southern coast.