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Saturday 3 June 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Alamy Stock Photo Welcome sign at Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine.
# chernobyl site
Ukraine agrees to hold talks with Russia at country's border with Belarus
It comes as Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear ‘deterrent’ forces on high alert.

UKRAINE HAS SAID it would hold talks with Russia at its border with Belarus – near the Chernobyl exclusion zone – after a call between President Volodymyr Zelensky and Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko.

“The politicians agreed that the Ukrainian delegation would meet the Russian one without preconditions at the Ukraine-Belarus border, near the Pripyat River,” Zelensky’s office said.

Zelensky has said he will not hold talks with Russia on the territory of Belarus, where some Russian troops were stationed before invading on Ukraine’s northern border.

But Kyiv said Lukashenko assured Zelensky that “all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on Belarus territory will remain on the ground during the travel, negotiations and return of the Ukrainian delegation”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that a Russian delegation was currently in the Belarusian city of Gomel, as he had wanted to hold the talks in Kremlin-aligned Belarus.

Zelensky, refusing to travel to Minsk, said Kyiv had proposed “Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku” as options to Russia.

The news came minutes after Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear “deterrent forces” on high alert amid tensions with the West over his invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at a meeting with his top officials, Putin asserted that leading Nato powers had made “aggressive statements” along with the West imposing hard-hitting financial sanctions against Russia, including the president himself.

Putin ordered the Russian defence minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty”.

International tensions are already soaring over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Putin’s order will cause further alarm.

Moscow has the world’s second-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and a huge cache of ballistic missiles which form the backbone of the country’s deterrence forces.

“You see that Western countries are not only unfriendly to our country in the economic sphere – I mean illegitimate sanctions,” he added, in a televised address.

“Senior officials of leading NATO countries also allow aggressive statements against our country.”

Defence Minister Shoigu replied: “Affirmative.”

With reporting from © AFP 2022

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