Khariv(AFP): As Moscow’s military blasted the country’s second city and Western nations prepared to ratchet up sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin laid out the criteria for ending Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Monday.

Putin’s ultimatum came as Moscow and Kyiv had their first discussions since the conflict erupted last Thursday, startling the globe and prompting a barrage of diplomatic, economic, cultural, and sporting vengeance.

Putin laid out his requirements for ending the conflict in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron shortly before the talks concluded, agreeing merely to start a second round of talks “soon.”

According to the Kremlin, “Putin emphasised that a settlement is only possible if Russia’s legitimate security interests are unconditionally considered, including recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, and the preservation of Ukraine’s neutral status.”

Fighting continued during the summit, with at least 11 people dead in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city near the Russian border, by Russian artillery.

According to Ukraine, the invasion has resulted in the deaths of over 350 civilians, including 14 children, and the exodus of over 500,000 people.

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