Early stage-negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have begun in Belarus on Monday, setting the stage for what could mark a potential de-escalation in tensions that have rattled crypto markets in February.

The negotiations, which are taking place at the Belarus border, come as the United States and its allies imposed strict sanctions on Russia and Belarus. Russian President Vladimir Putin also ordered the country’s nuclear deterrence force to be on high alert.

Kyiv has said there are no pre-conditions to the talks, and that Belarus is complicit in the invasion.

The head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, said Russia was interested in quickly reaching an agreement with  Ukraine to prevent further deaths, Interfax reported. Ukraine asked the European Union for immediate admission, as active fighting between Ukraine-Russian forces stretched into a fourth straight day, even spilling over into Ukraine’s capital.

Tensions over the conflict had dented crypto markets this month, costing them as much as $200 billion in capital. Broader financial markets had also suffered, while safe-haven assets, including gold, appreciated.

Focus is now on the prospect of any de-escalation in tensions, which could spark a rally in crypto. Demand for digital assets has also shot up in Russia and Ukraine this month as cash markets were impacted by the conflict, as well as western sanctions.

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