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uncommon ground

Zelensky agrees to peace talks brokered by Putin-allied president of Belarus

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly agreed on Sunday to send a Ukrainian delegation to negotiate with Russia near Ukraine's border with Belarus, The Kyiv Independent reported.

According to Axios, Zelensky said the talks would be held "without preconditions."

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin to use Belarus as a staging ground for his invasion, arranged the meeting during a call with Zelensky.

Despite Zelensky's agreement, the two presidents are not on good terms. According to The Associated Press, Zelensky directly addressed the people of Belarus on Sunday, asking how they could "look into the eyes of your children" when Russian troops were "killing our children" with missiles launched from Belarus. Lukashenko responded by calling Zelensky an American puppet.

Lukashenko has also strengthened his ties to Putin since the invasion began. Russian news agency Interfax reported Sunday that Lukashenko told French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday that if NATO deployed nuclear weapons in Poland or Lithuania, he would allow Russia to place nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Belarusian voters headed to the polls Sunday to vote in a constitutional referendum that would allow Lukashenko, who is 67 years old and has been in power since 1994, to remain president until 2035 and would permit closer cooperation with Russia, per AP.

Russian formations pushing south from Belarus toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv have sent reconnaissance forces against the city, which engaged in street fighting with Ukraine's military on Friday night. The main body of Russian troops has not yet assaulted the city.