Belarus said Monday that it had prepared the venue that will host peace talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia, as Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine went into its fifth day.
Ukraine has agreed to send a delegation to meet Russian representatives in neighbouring Belarus, a key Kremlin ally that has allowed Russian troops passage to attack Ukraine.
“The venue for talks between Russia and Ukraine in Belarus has been prepared, the arrival of delegations is expected,” the Belarusian foreign ministry said on social media, releasing a picture of a long table with Russian and Ukrainian flags.
Separately, Belarusian foreign ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz said: “The talks will start as soon as all the delegations arrive at the meeting point.”
Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, sending shockwaves around the world.
Kyiv was initially reluctant to send a delegation to Belarus, given the country’s role as facilitator in Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Ukraine has vowed not to give ground at the talks, which come as its forces fiercely resist the Russian offensive and a day after President Vladimir Putin ordered his defence chiefs to put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert.
The fighting in Ukraine has claimed dozens of civilian lives including children.
Kyiv insisted there were no pre-conditions to the talks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was sceptical about the prospect of talks in Belarus.
“As always: I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting, but let them try,” he said.