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Moscow says peace talks between Russia and Ukraine could start again Tuesday

Ukrainian service members stand beside a damaged building in a residential area after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo

March 28 (UPI) -- The Kremlin said the next round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators could start as early as Tuesday in person as Russia continued its invasion on Monday.

Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said new talks will take place in Istanbul after Turkey agreed to host the talks. While Turkey said the discussions could start Monday, Peskov said negotiators would only arrive in Istanbul on Monday.

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Peskov was not as optimistic about direct talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying no progress has been made in bringing them together.

Zelensky appeared to offer a diplomatic off-ramp for the Russian invasion Sunday, saying Ukraine could declare its "neutrality" and effectively renounce its past goal of joining NATO in a potential peace deal.

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He added, though, that Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity had to be part of any deal with Moscow, along with the departure of Russian troops. Zelensky made the comments in an interview with Russian journalists, but the Kremlin quickly banned publication.

In the meantime, Ukrainian officials said they believe Russia appears to now be concentrating on securing the eastern portion of the country that's controlled by separatists in an effort to divide the country similar to how Korea and Germany were after World War II and Vietnam was until the 1970s.

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Despite heavy bombardment, Russia has failed to take control of most of Ukraine's major cities, including the capital of Kyiv because of strong resistance.

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Kyiv officials said that schools would reopen online Monday and that "psychological support" for children would be offered to distract them from the war.

Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said no new humanitarian corridors would be opened out of major cities for fear of Russian "provocations" against civilians trying to escape the violence.

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