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Erdogan, Putin agree to hold next round of Russia******
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Sunday agreed to hold the next round of Russia-Ukraine negotiations in Turkey's Istanbul city, the Turkish presidency said.
The two leaders had a phone conversation on Sunday and discussed the latest situation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the negotiation process, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
The two leaders "agreed that the next meeting of the negotiation teams of Russia and Ukraine will be held in Istanbul," the statement said.
During the conversation, Erdogan told Putin that a ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine must be achieved as soon as possible and the humanitarian situation in the region should be improved, adding that Turkey would continue to "contribute in every possible way during this process."
Earlier on Sunday, David Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, said the next round of peace talks between Ukraine and Russia will take place next week in Turkey.
"Today, at the video talks, it was decided to hold the next live round by two delegations in Turkey on March 28-30," Arakhamia wrote on Facebook.
Meanwhile, head of Russia's negotiation team Vladimir Medinsky said the face-to-face talks will take place on March 29-30.
Ukrainian and Russian delegations have held three rounds of peace talks in-person in Belarus since February 28, and the fourth one started on March 14 in a format of video conference.
Previously, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, met in a resort town of Turkey's southern province of Antalya on March 10.
The meeting, held on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomatic Forum, was the first high-level talks between Moscow and Kiev since Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine on February 24.
During the meeting, the two sides failed to make progress on a ceasefire but agreed to continue negotiations over the conflict.
US sanctions Russia after Putin sends troops to Lugansk, Donetsk******
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on developments in Ukraine and Russia, and announces sanctions against Russia from the East Room of the White House on February 22, 2022, in Washington, DC.
US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced "the first tranche" of sanctions against Russia after Moscow deployed troops in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed two decrees, recognizing "the Lugansk People's Republic" and "the Donetsk People's Republic" as "independent and sovereign" states, and later ordered troops to enter the regions to conduct peacekeeping operations.
Lugansk and Donetsk declared independence following a vote during the height of armed conflict with Kiev in 2014. Ukraine refused to recognize their self-proclaimed status.
Calling Russia's move "the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine," Biden said in remarks delivered from the White House that his administration will impose sanctions on two Russian financial institutions - the VEB and the country's military bank – as well as on Russia's sovereign debt and three individuals.
He explained that the measure "means we've cut off Russia's government from Western financing. It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either."
Biden also mentioned the suspension of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany, which Berlin announced earlier in the day. Additional sanctions will be followed if the situation escalates, he said.
The president also announced movements of US troops to the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of which are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and share borders with Russia.
Biden said that the United States has "no intention of fighting Russia" but will "abide by" its commitments to NATO.
Following Moscow's recognition of Lugansk and Donetsk, Biden signed an executive order on Monday banning Americans from doing businesses in the two regions.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called off a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov scheduled for Thursday.
During a joint press briefing at the State Department with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Blinken said it makes little sense to hold a meeting with Lavrov following the Russian moves.