Russia president Vladimir Putin said his military advance in Ukraine was “going to plan” even as both sides met for ceasefire talks on March 3.
He made his comments during the televised opening of a national security council meeting after the fall of a first major Ukrainian city of Kherson to Russian forces, major news media reported.
Russians, Ukrainians one people
Putin added that he “will never give up on (his) conviction that Russians and Ukrainians are one people”, even as Ukraine appealed for Western military aid.
Putin again said Russia was rooting out “neo-Nazis”.
Moscow will continue
According to a Kremlin account of the conversation between Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron earlier, the Russian leader said Moscow “intends to continue the uncompromising fight against militants of nationalist armed groups”.
Ukraine president asks for more help
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the West for more military assistance, after Nato members ruled out enforcing a no-fly zone for fear it could lead to a direct war with nuclear-armed Russia.
Zelensky told a news conference: “If we are no more then, God forbid, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia will be next.”
He added that direct talks with Putin were “the only way to stop this war”.
“If you do not have the power to close the skies, then give me planes!”
The 27-nation EU bloc has offered fighter jets with the German government planning to deliver another 2,700 anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.
EU to take in refugees
The EU is also going to approve temporary protection for all refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
The number of refugees is estimated to be at more than one million, according to the United Nations.
Negotiations to continue
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met at an undisclosed location on the Belarus-Poland border.
The Ukrainian delegates appeared in military khaki clothing and the Russians in more formal business suits.
They shook hands across a table at the start of the meeting.
The first round of talks did not yield much progress.
Kyiv said it will not accept any “ultimatums” from Moscow.
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