Ukraine said its top objective at the first face-to-face talks with Russia in over two weeks, due to take place in Turkey on Tuesday, is to secure a ceasefire, although both it and the United States were skeptical of a major breakthrough, APA reports citing Reuters.
The more than month-long invasion, the biggest attack on a European nation since World War Two, has seen over 3.8 million people flee abroad, left thousands dead or injured, and has brought isolation to Russia's economy and tumult to markets.
Nearly 5,000 people have been killed, including about 210 children, in the port city of Mariupol amid heavy Russian bombardment, according to figures from the mayor. Reuters was unable to immediately verify the numbers.
Survivors have told harrowing tales of people dying from lack of medical treatment, bodies being buried wherever space could be found, and women giving birth in basements.
A Ukrainian delegation arrived in Istanbul for the negotiations, TV footage showed.
"The minimum programme will be humanitarian questions, and the maximum programme is reaching an agreement on a ceasefire," Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on national television.
"We are not trading people, land or sovereignty."
Russian President Vladimir Putin does not appear ready to make compromises to end the war, a senior U.S. State Department official told Reuters on Monday on condition of anonymity.
And Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said that he doubted "there will be any breakthrough on the main issues."
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said talks so far had not yielded any substantial breakthroughs but that it was important that they continued in person. He declined to give more information, saying that to do so could interfere with the process.