High-level talks between Russia and Ukraine end with no breakthrough

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (NPR) — The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia on Thursday met in the highest-level negotiations between the two nations since Russia invaded eastern Ukraine more than two weeks ago. The talks, held in Antalya, Turkey, were the fourth set of diplomatic discussions thus far, and like the previous efforts, failed to lead to any significant breakthroughs to end the violence.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he proposed plans to create humanitarian corridors out of Mariupol and a 24-hour cease-fire.

He and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not reach any agreements.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova speaks to media as Turkish Foreign Minister, Russian Foreign Minister and Ukraine's Foreign Minister meet for talks in Antalya
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova speaks to media as the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers meet for talks in Antalya, Turkey, on Thursday. [Photo by Ozan Kose | AFP via Getty Images]
“We will define Ukraine’s destiny by ourselves,” Lavrov said at a press conference after the meeting. Lavrov dismissed reports of Russian forces targeting civilians as propaganda and justified an attack on a Ukrainian hospital because, he said, it was overtaken by Ukrainian extremists.

Thursday’s meeting comes a day after the sides agreed to a temporary cease-fire to allow civilians to flee, but residents in some cities said Russia continued its bombardment. Russian forces have surrounded the southern city of Mariupol. On Wednesday, they shelled a hospital in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called a “direct strike” by Russian forces.

The fighting has concentrated in the south and east, but Ukrainian forces and civilians in the capital, Kyiv, have defended against Russian advances there.

More than 2 million people have fled, according to the United Nations.

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