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Russia has said that it will reduce military operations near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv.

According to a Reuters report, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin made the commitment in a bid to strengthen mutual trust between the two sides amid peace negotiations.

Russian and Ukrainian delegations met in Turkey’s Istanbul for talks to achieve a ceasefire.

Minister Fomin was quoted by the news agency as saying: “In order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and achieving the ultimate goal of agreeing and signing [an] agreement, a decision was made to radically, by a large margin, reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions.”

At the meeting, Ukraine proposed that it will adopt a neutral status and sought security guarantees.

The neutrality status implies that Ukraine will not host military bases or join military alliances, such as Nato, in the future.

On 24 February, Russia launched a military operation on neighbouring Ukraine. The conflict has now been ongoing for more than one month, with Russia continuing major offensive operations in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine.

Several European countries have stepped up defences in response to the Ukraine crisis.

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said that it will bring a division to combat readiness in 2025. Before the conflict, the country planned to have a combat-ready division in 2027, and three by 2032.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office said that the government will increase defence spending. It aims to increase military expenditure to 2% of the national GDP, up from the existing 1.4%.