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Moscow, Kyiv to hold third round of talks Monday; UN to boost humanitarian efforts

International body says 351 civilians killed and 1.4 million have fled Ukraine since start of Russian invasion

Members of delegations from Ukraine and Russia, including Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky (second left), Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak (second right), Volodymyr Zelensky's 'Servant of the People' lawmaker Davyd Arakhamia (third right), hold talks in Belarus' Gomel region, on February 28, 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sergei Kholodilin/Belta/AFP)
Members of delegations from Ukraine and Russia, including Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky (second left), Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak (second right), Volodymyr Zelensky's 'Servant of the People' lawmaker Davyd Arakhamia (third right), hold talks in Belarus' Gomel region, on February 28, 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sergei Kholodilin/Belta/AFP)

Talks between Moscow and Kyiv to seek a way to end the bloody conflict triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will resume on Monday, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said Saturday.

“The third round of negotiations will take place on Monday,” Arakhamia, the parliamentary leader of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party and an envoy to the talks, said on his Facebook page.

He did not provide any further details.

The first two rounds of talks on resolving the Russia-Ukraine war produced no breakthrough, though the two sides have agreed to meet again.

The southern port city of Mariupol put off a planned evacuation of residents Saturday, blaming Russia for breaking a temporary ceasefire both sides agreed upon last week.

Under siege, Mariupol proudly resisted Moscow-backed rebels during a 2014 conflict, but the Azov seaport has for days been without electricity, food, and water in the dead of winter, and people began gathering for the evacuation.

Ambulance paramedics move an injured man on a stretcher, wounded by shelling in a residential area, at the maternity hospital converted into a medical ward and used as a bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

After Russia’s defense ministry declared the ceasefire — to open a humanitarian corridor out of the war’s fiercest battles — officials said the city’s 450,000-strong population could begin to leave by bus and private cars.

However, city officials called for a delay in the evacuation, saying: “The Russian side does not adhere to the ceasefire and has continued shelling both Mariupol itself and its environment, and for security reasons, the evacuation of the civilian population has been postponed.”

Negotiations were underway “to establish a ceasefire and ensure a safe humanitarian corridor,” Mariupol authorities added.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday that the UN is committed to scaling up its humanitarian operations to help both those who have stayed in Ukraine and the millions who have fled.

Guterres relayed the promise to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call on Saturday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Dujarric said the two also discussed the conditions for safely evacuating civilians, including foreigners, from combat zones.

Ten days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 1.45 million people have fled the battered country, according to the UN-affiliated Organization for Migration in Geneva. The UN has predicted that the total number of refugees could swell to 4 million, to become the biggest such crisis this century.

Refugees, mostly women with children, wait for transportation at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on March 5, 2022, after fleeing from Ukraine. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

The UN Security Council will hold a meeting Monday afternoon on the escalating humanitarian needs that have arisen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UN human rights office said on Saturday it has confirmed the deaths of 351 civilians in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.

The Geneva-based office said that another 707 civilians were injured between February 24 and midnight Friday.

The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed. It said Saturday it believes the real figures are considerably higher, “especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days,” as the receipt of information from some places where there was intense fighting was delayed and many reports were still undergoing corroboration.

Ukrainian officials have presented far higher numbers.

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