Tuesday, 5 July, 2022

Nothing 'promising' from talks: Kremlin

Over 4m Ukrainian refugees flee war: UN

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Wednesday played down hopes of a breakthrough following peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegates in Istanbul a day earlier, reports AFP.

"We cannot state that there was anything too promising or any breakthroughs," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"There is a lot of work to be done," Peskov said.

He added that Moscow considered it "positive" that Kyiv had started outlining its demands in writing.

"We carefully avoid making statements on the matters" that are discussed at the talks because "we believe that negotiations should take place in silence", he added.

Following talks in Istanbul on Tuesday that Moscow's main negotiator described as "meaningful", Russia said it would be significantly reducing its military activity near Ukraine's capital Kyiv and the city of Chernigiv.

However on Wednesday, Ukrainian authorities said Russian forces bombarded the northern city of Chernigiv despite Moscow's earlier claims.

Meanwhile, more than four million Ukrainians have now fled the country to escape Russia's "senseless war", the United Nations said Wednesday.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said 4,019,287 Ukrainians had fled across the country's borders since the February 24 invasion, with more than 2.3 million having headed west into Poland. "Refugees from Ukraine are now four million, five weeks after the start of the Russian attack,"   UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said on Twitter.

"I have just arrived in Ukraine. In Lviv I will discuss with the authorities, the UN and other partners ways to increase our support to people affected and displaced by this senseless war."

The number of refugees has surpassed UNHCR's initial estimate that the war could create up to four million.

The agency says the speed and scale of the displacement is unprecedented in Europe since World War II.

Women and children account for 90 percent of those who have fled. Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are eligible for military call-up and cannot leave.

The UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that in addition to Ukrainian refugees, close to 200,000 non-Ukrainians living, studying and working in the country have also left.

And as of March 16, some 6.48 million people were estimated to be internally displaced within Ukraine, according to an IOM representative survey.

"They need urgent life-saving aid," the organization said Wednesday.

"In response to the war in Ukraine, IOM has scaled up its effort to prevent the trafficking of persons both in the country and among those moving throughout the region," it added.

Before Russia's February 24 invasion, Ukraine had a population of 37 million in the regions under government control, excluding Russia-annexed Crimea and the pro-Russian separatist regions in the east.