Live news updates: EU states expel Russian diplomats over spying allegations

Russia is to cut back on its attacks in the Kyiv and Chernihiv areas, a top defence ministry official said on Tuesday, following a round of peace talks with Ukraine in Istanbul.

The decision was taken as “negotiations over the preparation of an agreement on Ukraine’s neutrality and non-nuclear status, as well as on the provision of security guarantees for Ukraine, are entering a practical stage”, said deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin in a video shared by Russian state media.

The defence ministry “has decided to dramatically reduce military activities in the directions of Kyiv and Chernihiv,” Fomin said, so as to “increase mutual trust, and to create the necessary conditions for future negotiations”.

Chernihiv is a city located about 150km north east of Kyiv.

More details will be made available after the delegation returns to Moscow, he added.

The leadership of the Russian armed forces last week said Moscow was entering a “new phase” in the war. They will focus on eastern Ukraine, in the Luhansk and Donetsk breakaway republics and in the port city of Mariupol, said members of the general staff on Friday.

Map animation showing Russian military presence and Ukrainian counter-offensives around Kyiv

Turkey meanwhile confirmed the Istanbul talks would end on Tuesday but continue online. The round in Turkey was initially intended to span two days.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said that holding the meeting in Istanbul “shows the trust both sides have in Turkey”.

“We are pleased to see that the sides are moving closer with each stage,” Cavusoglu said.

“A compromising and mutual perspective was reached on some matters,” he added, with Tuesday’s negotiations showing the “most meaningful progress” to date.

“More difficult matters will be taken up at higher levels,” he added.

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