Ukraine’s top negotiator, Mikhailo Podolyak, said Kyiv rejected proposals by Russia to adopt a neutral status comparable to Austria or Sweden as part of a cease-fire agreement. Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, had earlier said that Ukraine offered an Austrian or Swedish model of demilitarization, “but at the same time a state with its own army and navy.” But Podolyak said, “Ukraine is now in a direct state of war with Russia. Consequently, the model can only be ‘Ukrainian’ and only on legally verified security guarantees.”
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said there was still no agreement on safe evacuations of civilians out of embattled towns and villages. “The question of humanitarian corridors for Izyum and Mariupol is open. It is currently impossible to get people out of there safely,” Vereshchuk said in a video address. “Ways for the delivery of food and medicines to captured cities are being worked out,” she added. The northeastern city of Izyum has been under siege by Russian forces, and the port city of Mariupol has been enclosed for days. Vereshchuk said Russian forces were in control of a hospital they captured on Tuesday in Mariupol and accused them of holding 400 staff and patients hostage.
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