Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has reiterated his openness to talks with Russia in a video message, saying he welcomed an offer from Turkey and Azerbaijan to organize diplomatic efforts, which so far have faltered.
The Kremlin confirmed a phone call between Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev but gave no hint of restarting talks.
A day earlier, Zelenskyy offered to negotiate a key Russian demand of abandoning ambitions of joining NATO.
In a related development, the U.S., European Union and United Kingdom have agreed to block selected Russian banks from the SWIFT global financial messaging system as part of a new round of sanctions aiming to impose a severe cost on Moscow.
This system is used by Russia to move money around more than 11,000 banks and other financial institutions worldwide. They also agreed to impose restrictive measures on Russia’s central bank.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the bulk of Russian forces were 30 kilometers from the city’s center, according to Britain and the U.S. It was unclear how much territory Russian forces had seized or to what extent their advance had been stalled. Britain’s Ministry of Defense said the speed of the Russian advance has temporarily slowed likely as a result of acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance.
While Russia claims its assault on Ukraine from the north, east and south is aimed only at military targets, Ukraine claimed bridges, schools and residential neighborhoods have been hit.