Russian and Ukrainian negotiators failed to achieve major breakthrough during their third round of peace talks in Belarus on Monday, while a negotiator said the fourth round will take place in "the very near future."
"The discussions continued on political and military aspects. However, it remains difficult. It is too early to talk about something positive," Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, also the head of the Russian delegation, said following the third round of talks.
Russian negotiators brought specific agreements to the talks, but the Ukrainian side refused to sign them on the spot and took the documents back home for further study, he told reporters.
"To be honest, our expectations from the talks were not met. But we hope that next time we will be able to take a more significant step forward," Medinsky said after the meeting, which lasted nearly three hours at the Belovezhskaya Pushcha on the Belarus-Poland border.
Both sides addressed the issue of civilian evacuation, and the Ukrainian side assured Russia that the humanitarian corridors would start working on Tuesday, he said.
Leonid Slutsky, member of the Russian delegation and head of the International Affairs Committee of the lower house of the Russian parliament, said that the fourth round of talks would take place in the near future, Sputnik reported on Monday.
"And the next round, given that the rounds take place almost every other day, so the next, fourth round will take place in Belarus in the very, very near future. I can't name the exact date yet," Slutsky said after the third round of negotiations as aired by Russia's Rossiya 24 broadcaster.
On the same day, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a telephone conversation with Josep Borrell, the European Union's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
During the conversation, Borrell briefed Wang on the EU's position on Ukraine, saying the most important thing at present is to cease fire and avoid further massive casualties.
The EU supports solving the issue through negotiations, he said.
For his part, Wang said the top priority now is to avoid a humanitarian crisis, adding that China has publicly put forth a six-point initiative on preventing a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine aimed at promoting synergy among the international community to avoid a further deterioration of the situation.
Wang said that Russia and Ukraine should be encouraged to hold peace talks and that the Chinese side has advocated dialogue from the very start.
He said he hopes that the international community can support sincere negotiations between Russia and Ukraine involving a ceasefire, ending the conflict and peace.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba are expected to meet in Turkey's southern province of Antalya on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomatic Forum, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The meeting would be held in a tripartite format, Cavusoglu said at a press conference on Monday, while hoping it would "be a turning point."
On Monday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova confirmed that Lavrov and Kuleba plan to meet in Antalya. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to the meeting during their recent phone conversation.
Meanwhile, according to the Ukrainian UNIAN news agency, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said that Kiev is exploring the possibility of such a meeting in Turkey.