The third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine was held in Belarus on Monday, 7 March, with Ukraine dismissing Moscow's offer to create humanitarian corridors from cities like Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol, and Sumy, after it emerged that the exit routes would lead refugees into Russia or Belarus.
The third round comes after Russia announced a ceasefire in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, and Mariupol to open humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians, even as shelling and airstrikes continued in other cities.
News of the commencement of talks was tweeted by the Belarus' Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Russia's attack on Ukraine has pushed more than 1.7 million people across Ukraine's borders in what the United Nations (UN) has called Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.
While Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that "this (the routes) is not an acceptable option," Russia's negotiator at the peace talks, Vladimir Medinsky, accused Ukraine of the "war crime" of blocking the corridors, AFP reported.
Expectations remained low for the talks, which were due to begin at 14:00 GMT on the Belarus-Poland border, and which Medinsky said would focus on evacuation routes.
The Russian foreign ministry also stated that a meeting would take place on Thursday between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Turkey, as per a report by CNN.
The first round of talks had taken place on 28 February, and the second on 3 March.
While the first round ended without any agreement between the two sides, the second round indicated some progress.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a member of Ukraine’s delegation, after the second round of talks, said that the parties had reached a tentative agreement to organise safe corridors for civilians for evacuation and for humanitarian supplies to be delivered.
(With inputs from CNN.)