A Ukrainian government official said Russian Federation (RF) units in the Kharkiv region are looking for ways to negotiate a surrender with advancing Ukrainian troops, according to a Monday news report.

Nataliya Humeniuk, spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Operational Command South (OCS), said Russian forces in the country’s north-east “are looking for ways to get in touch with our units in order to conduct so-called negotiations on the possibility of assembling weapons and transitioning under the auspices of international humanitarian law.”

Humeniuk’s remarks made during an interview on the Espresso Television channel marked the first official Kyiv confirmation of possible talks between Ukrainian troops advancing in the Kharkiv sector with Russian units wanting to surrender.

Multiple Ukrainian news reports on Saturday pointed to possible talks in progress between Russian troops in the town Vovchansk, a Kharkiv region rail hub town near the Russian border, and UAF units approaching from the south. On Sunday, media images of Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) standing in front of the Vovchansk town council building appeared, along with reports that RF troops had left.

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The Russian Ministry of Defense on Sunday acknowledged that due to a powerful Ukrainian offensive, Russian troops in its path will “redeploy” to the Donbas region, but claimed it was an intentional strategy and not a military defeat. Other Kremlin-associated sources asserted the withdrawal was in good order and that RF units were neither routed nor surrendering, but constructing a new defensive line along the Oskil’ River. Independent Ukrainian media, in contrast, have reported a frenzied evacuation of RF units with massive traffic jams and dozens of abandoned combat vehicles and ammunition depots.

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Ukraine’s military Central Directorate for Intelligence (CDI) on Saturday made public a telephone intercept in which, the CDI claimed, a RF soldier contacted a newly-operational Ukraine Armed Forces hotline to learn how to give himself and his buddies up to the Ukrainian military. The UAF interlocutor in the recording says procedures for an RF soldier going to a pre-designated location, unarmed, in order to give himself up are safe and well-established.

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