After hiding “thousands” of deaths estimated by Ukraine and international allies, Vladimir Putin’s military has finally admitted to the loss of its first GRU military intelligence spy.
Captain Alexey Glushchak, 31, from Tyumen in Siberia, is believed to have died in the attack on the Ukrainian port Mariupol, but the Russian military has given no details of his death.
In a statement, they said: “Due to the strict secrecy of the military operation, the circumstances of the death of the Tyumen hero are not disclosed.”
More than 2,400 civilians have been killed in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol since Russia invaded the country last month, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.
Mr Borrell, speaking at a news conference in Skopje, said that more than 2.6 million people have fled Ukraine and the number of refugees could swell to 4-5 million.
Ukraine said it would seek to discuss a ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops and security guarantees with Russia on Monday after both sides reported rare progress at the weekend, despite fierce Russian bombardments.
Previous rounds of talks have had similar aims but have ended up focused mainly on humanitarian issues and agreed ceasefires to supply towns and cities under siege by Russian forces have frequently failed.
“Negotiations. 4th round. On peace, ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops & security guarantees. Hard discussion,” Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said online.
Writing at the expected start time of 10:30 am Kyiv time (08:30 GMT), he said he believed Russia “still has a delusion that 19 days of violence against (Ukrainian) peaceful cities is the right strategy.”
Russia denies targeting civilians, describing its actions as a “special operation” to demilitarise and “deNazify” Ukraine.
Ukraine and Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war of choice.
Moscow said earlier it saw no reason for United Nations peacekeepers to be sent to Ukraine, a prospect that had not been widely considered up to now.
Pyotr Ilyichev, director of the ministry’s international organisations department, said there was no need for peacekeepers as Russia was in control, RIA reported.
READ MORE: Ukraine war: Drone carrying bomb crashes into Croatian capital
Moscow widened its assault on Sunday with an attack on a base near the border with NATO member Poland.
Ukraine said 35 people had been killed at the base while Moscow said up to 180 “foreign mercenaries” died and a large number of foreign weapons were destroyed. The base has hosted military instructors but NATO said it had no personnel in Ukraine. Reuters could not independently verify the casualty reports.
At least one person was killed and three injured at a residential building in Kyiv on Monday, Ukrainian state television said, while the city administration said the Antonov aircraft plant there had been shelled. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the reports.
Russian troops have yet to enter the capital but thousands of people have died in other occupied or encircled towns and villages since the invasion on February 24.
Infighting in the Kremlin shows Putin ‘losing touch with reality’ [VIDEO]
Ukraine-Russia war: Putin’s missile strike brings war to NATO [ANALYSIS]
Brexit: Truss ‘100 percent prepared’ to trigger Article 16 [INSIGHT]
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, discussed diplomatic efforts to stop Russia’s invasion, the State Department said, after Russia and Ukraine gave upbeat assessments of weekend negotiations.
“Russia is already beginning to talk constructively,” Ukraine negotiator Podolyak said in a video online.
“I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days.”
A Russian delegate to the talks, Leonid Slutsky, was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying the negotiators had made significant progress and it was possible they could soon reach draft agreements.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the countries’ delegations had been speaking daily by video link and a clear aim of his negotiators was to “do everything” to arrange for him to meet Putin.
“We must hold on. We must fight. And we will win,” Zelensky said in a late night video speech.