The Kremlin said Monday that it may still opt to take control of large cities in Ukraine, as Moscow's military advances steadily towards several major urban hubs in its pro-Western neighbour.
"Putin gave orders to hold back on any immediate assault on large cities because the civilians losses would be large," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding however that, "the defence ministry does not rule out the possibility of putting large cities under its full control".
A day earlier, Russian and Ukrainian officials gave their most upbeat assessments yet of progress in their talks on the war in Ukraine, suggesting there could be positive results within days.
Also read: Russia and Ukraine give brightest assessment yet of progress in talks on war
On the same day, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Russia was showing signs of willingness to engage in substantive negotiations about ending a conflict in which thousands have died. More than 2.5 million people have fled.
Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak was quoted as saying, "I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days," he said.
Moreover, RIA news agency quoted a Russian delegate, Leonid Slutsky, as saying the talks had made substantial progress.
With additional input from Reuters