Russian President Vladimir Putin said he’d “thrash” the Ukrainians while speaking to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who’s acting as Russia’s unofficial envoy in the nation’s talks with Ukraine, The Times reported. 

As per the British daily, this incident took place when Abramovich handed a note to Putin, from his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky

Abramovich, who Kremlin acknowledged as leading peace talks between the countries for some time, was reportedly poisoned yesterday, along with two Ukrainian officials, as they met in Kyiv.

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Zelensky has long been urging Putin to engage in direct talks, though a top Russian diplomat has suggested such a meeting would be counterproductive. Nonetheless, the Ukrainian head of state has kept everything on the table, saying he was ready to discuss a ceasefire in exchange for Ukraine not joining NATO, and continuing that the nation was ready to discuss Crimea and Donbas as well. 

Thus far, the two countries have not been able to reach a ceasefire agreement after numerous talks. However, later meets resulted in the setting up of humanitarian corridors, allowing Ukrainians to evacuate from war-torn zones. 

Since Russia began its invasion on February 24, they have not made significant progress on the ground. The military has thus switched tactics, focusing on aerial shelling, which has resulted in the destruction of civilian structures, especially in places like Mariupol. Currently, Russia stands accused of war crimes due to its actions. 

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Today, Russia and Ukraine are slated to begin another round of talks in Turkey, with the president of the nation acknowledging that both sides have legitimate grounds for concern. Zelensky has already shut down any possibility of discussing “denazification” of Ukraine, while Putin has maintained Russia’s goal is to ensure Ukraine does not become a NATO member, fearing the eastward expansion of the military organization would bring troops close to Russia’s border.