New peace talks aimed at ending the months-long conflict in Ukraine began on Wednesday.
Over 4,700 people have been killed, over 10,000 wounded, and more than one million displaced in the conflict so far.
The talks involve representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and are taking place in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
The Associated Press reports that a second round of talks is planned for Friday.
On Tuesday, Ukraine took a step towards NATO membership when its parliament voted to drop the country's 'non-aligned' status. Russia denounced that move, with Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov telling Russian news agency Interfax: "NATO countries pushed Kiev to this counterproductive decision, trying to turn Ukraine into a front line of confrontation with Russia."
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned last week that the situation for civilians in areas directly affected by the conflict was becoming "increasingly dire."