New Delhi, March 30: Moscow promised to scale down its military operations near Ukraine's capital Kyiv, as talks brought the outlines of a possible deal to end the war in Ukraine, now into its 34th day. As both sides expressed optimism following another round of talks hosted by Turkey, negotiators indicated that a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy could take place once a peace treaty is agreed on. Meanwhile, Russian attacks continued in Ukraine’s south and west, with a rocket strike killing seven people in the city of Mykolaiv.

Russian forces in Ukraine are regrouping and preparing for renewed offensive operations, Ukrainian Defence Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said on Wednesday.

"(Russia's) main efforts are concentrated on surrounding Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine," Motuzyanyk said, adding that Russia was still trying to take the southern port city of Mariupol and the towns of Popasna and Rubizhne.  Russia-Ukraine War: 12 Journalists Killed in Ukraine Since Beginning of War, Says Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova

"It (Russia) is preparing to resume offensive operations," he said, adding that Ukraine's armed forces command had observed some movements of Russian forces away from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions but did not consider this to be a mass withdrawal.

Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said he felt optimistic after talks with Russia at which Moscow said it would scale down military operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv in northern Ukraine.

He said a proposed system of security guarantees for Ukraine, which would be offered in exchange for its neutrality, would be put to a nationwide referendum only after Russian troops withdrew to positions they held before invading Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was misled by his advisers about how poorly the war in Ukraine is going and how damaging Westerns sanctions have been to Russia's economy, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, citing declassified intelligence.

Russian forces struck a Red Cross facility in the besieged and destroyed southern Ukraine port city of Mariupol, Kyiv said Wednesday. There was no confirmation yet if anyone had been killed or injured in the attack.   Russia-Ukraine War: Vladimir Putin Says, 'Tell Volodymyr Zelenskyy, I Will Thrash Them' After Receiving Peace Offer From Ukrainian President

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that demanding ruble payment for exports of oil, grain, fertilisers, coal, metals and other key commodities in addition to natural gas was a good idea and should be worked on.

In response to the West's crippling sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that natural gas exported to Europe or the United States should be paid for in his country's currency, a measure his government said could be in place this week, and as soon as Thursday.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 30, 2022 09:18 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website