Delegations from Ukraine and Russia will meet for possible peace talks on the Belarus border as the Kremlin’s military campaign against its neighbor has failed to produce the lightning victory President Vladimir Putin had been hoping for.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that talks would be held near the Pripyat River north of the Chernobyl nuclear site.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Greenfield-Thomas said Ukraine’s agreement to talk is yet another attempt to repel Mr. Putin through diplomacy, but it is impossible to know if it is a good-faith effort by Moscow.
“We’ll look forward to what comes out of those discussions,” Amb. Greenfield-Thomas told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I can’t get into Putin’s head or into Russian reasoning so it remains to be seen. Let’s see what comes of it.”
All future consequences for Mr. Putin remain on the table, she said, as Mr. Zelenskyy accuses him of war crimes that will come before the international court at The Hague. But for now, she said the West is focused on the fighting at hand and calling for an emergency session before the U.N. General Assembly.
She didn’t say whether the U.S. backs Mr. Zelenskyy’s call to strip Russia of its vote on the Security Council council, though said “we are going to hold Russia accountable for disrespecting the U.N. charter.”
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Amb. Greenfield-Thomas said the decision to impose sanctions on the Russian central bank is an attempt to prevent Moscow from lifting up the ruble as its values plunges.
She said the U.S. and allies are looking at “new and even harsher measures against the Russians” that include a tougher approach to energy, which could boomerang on Americans and Europeans through tighter supply and higher prices.
“We have not taken anything off the table,” the ambassador said. “We’re continuing to look at this, we’re ramping up as the Russians ramp up.”
Several countries, including Turkey and Israel, have offered to host negotiations to end the war, launched by Mr. Putin last week. Mr. Zelenskyy said the meeting was proposed by Belarusian President Alexander Lukahshenko, whose country hosted some of the Russian troops that are taking part in the invasion.
Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican, said he trusts the Ukrainians to maintain healthy skepticism as they agree to talks.
“I think the Ukrainians know how to do it and they also know to be distrustful of whatever the Russians say since everything that Vladimir Putin has said and other Russian officials has been propaganda, disinformation. So they need to be careful,” Mr. Portman told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And by the way, Belarus is where the Russians wanted to have the meeting. Belarus is now under control of Russia, and Belarus is aiding and abetting the Russians’ attack on their neighbor Ukraine. So it’s outrageous.”
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Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, said the walls will close in on Mr. Putin from within as Russians feel the sting of sanctions and take to the streets despite the threat of arrest.
“You are going to start seeing the effects on people economically,” Ms. Klobuchar told “Fox News Sunday.”
She said Russians, more and more, will have “further reason to take to the streets.”
• David R. Sands contributed to this report, which was based in part on wire service reports.