(PresidentialWire.com)- Last Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin formally recognized the independence of the eastern Ukrainian territories of Donetsk and Luhansk and ordered Russian “peacekeepers” into the region.
Overnight, more than 10,000 soldiers entered the area, with 6,000 going to Donetsk, 5,000 to Luhansk, and 1,500 to the city of Horlivka.
Then three days later, Putin announced that Russian forces were invading Ukraine on a “special military operation” ostensibly to protect the two breakaway territories.
Missiles began raining down on Ukrainian cities. Columns of Russian troops poured over the borders into the eastern Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Luhansk regions while Russian troops made sea landings on Odessa and Mariupol in the south. To the north, Russian troops crossed from Belarus into neighboring Ukraine.
By Friday, missiles were pounding Kyiv as Russian troops advanced on the Ukraine capital.
But if Putin expected the assault on Kyiv to go as quickly as his incursion into Donetsk and Luhansk, he was mistaken.
By the weekend, Russian forces encircling Kyiv still had not taken the city. And on Sunday, Ukrainian and Russian officials agreed to hold talks on Monday.
In a statement on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that a Ukrainian delegation would meet with a Russian delegation without preconditions on the Ukrainian/Belarusian border near the Pripyat River.
In a video message on Sunday, Zelensky, who has remained in Kyiv throughout the fighting, admitted that his expectations for these talks are low, but said the Ukrainian people should not doubt that he is doing everything he can to stop the war, even if the chance was small.
Zelensky announced the planned talks after speaking with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a staunch Putin ally. Lukashenko, Zelesky said, promised that all military air assets stationed in Belarus would remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation’s travel, talks, and return.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova stressed that President Zelensky would not personally attend these talks. Instead, he will remain in Kyiv with the Ukraine military “defending the country.”