Meetings between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations held in Istanbul this Tuesday have concluded with progress and have opened the door to a possible agreement. The Russian side has defined him as “constructive”. His deputy defense minister, Alexander Fomin, has announced that, in response to progress, Moscow has decided to “reduce military operations” in the Kyiv and Chernigov regions. The negotiating team sent by the government of Volodymyr Zelensky said at the end of the four-hour talks that Ukraine would seal its neutrality and, therefore, refuse to enter the Atlantic Alliance, as demanded by President Vladimir Putin, provided That the security of Kyiv is guaranteed, their territory does not exclude the demilitarization of the occupied territories, the Crimean peninsula and the Donbass. Mijelo Podolik, one of the spokesman for the Ukrainian delegation, told the press at the end of the meeting that “the results obtained today are sufficient for a meeting to be held at the leadership level”, i.e. between President Putin and Zelensky, something that the host of the meeting Turkey. Been pushing for weeks. The head of the Russian team has said that this summit will be possible only if the foreign ministers of the two countries first sign an agreement.
The proposal of the Ukrainian envoy team will now have to be evaluated by the Russian representatives. Negotiators sent by Kyiv, led by David Arzamia, chairman of the majority group in the Ukrainian parliament, have presented a settlement proposal, in exchange for their military “neutrality” – which includes renouncing joining NATO, establishing foreign territory on its own. The U.S. requires a treaty of guarantee for the development of military bases and nuclear weapons. The treaty, which must be ratified at an international summit, would include designations from a dozen guarantor countries, five of the Security Council (the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom) plus Turkey, Germany, Canada, Israel . or Poland. , that, in case of aggression against Ukrainian territory, they would have an obligation to defend them, in the same way as Article 5 of the NATO Charter works.
The territory of Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, and the Donbass, in the hands of pro-Russian rebels, would be excluded from this protection. Ukraine will continue to consider these areas within its borders and occupied by Russia, but has pledged not to take aggressive action against them. The Ukrainian proposal that Moscow is now reviewing provides for a period of 15 years to negotiate with Moscow about the future status of Crimea.
The meeting began at 9:30 a.m. local time (one hour less in mainland Spain), with a welcome from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who urged both delegations to carry out their “historic mission” to achieve “a proper peace”. did. for both sides. After an hour and a half meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian heads of delegation, the entire negotiating team (including government, parliamentary and military representatives) met for about three hours, with breaks in between. The talks are scheduled to continue tomorrow, Wednesday, as announced by the Turkish government.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged representatives of Kyiv and Moscow to act “responsibly” and agree a ceasefire ahead of the talks. “With a sense of responsibility, I am sure that a permanent ceasefire can be reached,” Erdogan said in a speech addressed to representatives of both sides at the presidential office of the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, according to the Efe news agency. The President also expressed confidence that today and tomorrow’s meeting will open the way for meetings at the level of Heads of Government. “We believe that with a just and equal peace, there is no one to lose. The continuation of the war is not to the liking of either side and an immediate ceasefire will benefit all”, the Turkish president insisted in his televised address.
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Pointing to daily fighting since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24, Erdogan believed the time had come to end the fire “as quickly as possible”. “Everyone is waiting for good news from you,” he insisted after recalling his and his government’s efforts to mediate between the parties to find a solution that would end the fighting.
So far, the two sides have met in person three times in Belarusian territory, while on the 10th the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine, Sergei Lavrov and Dmitry Kuleba, respectively, met unsuccessfully in Antalya. Since then, talks have taken place practically daily in videoconferencing format at the level of two delegations and working groups.
The furthest points in negotiations between the two sides will be the status of Crimea, which Moscow seeks to recognize as part of its territory, and the Donbass, which the Kremlin wants to gain independence from Ukraine or annexed to Russia. Is. However, the head of Ukrainian diplomacy played down expectations and said that, on the points mentioned by Erdogan, “consensus has not been achieved” with Russia.
“Security and neutrality guaranteed, non-nuclear situation for our country. We are ready for this”, Zelensky told several Russian independent media such as . Said in an interview with jellyfish or Kommersant released this sunday, He also assured that he was ready to “compromise” on the Donbass, an area partially controlled by pro-Russian rebels since 2014 and Moscow now becoming the main object of the invasion.
“I understand that it is impossible to force Russia to completely liberate the region, which will lead to the Third World War. That’s why I say: it’s a compromise. back to [las posiciones] In which it started and we will try to solve the Donbass issue, the difficult issue of the Donbass”, the Ukrainian leader confirmed: “I want to end this war. I don’t want hundreds of thousands dead. That’s why I plan to attack by force neither in the Donbass nor in the Crimea. Because I understand that thousands of our people will die.”
The change of venue for the talks by Turkey, something the Ukrainian side had sought in view of Belarus’s increasing involvement in the Russian war campaign, was decided over the weekend after several Turkish efforts. Erdogan called Zelensky on Friday, and later testified that there had been “progress” in the state of talks. On Sunday, he spoke on the phone with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, who was convinced to move the talks to Istanbul.
Turkey, despite being one of the oldest members of NATO, is the only country in the coalition that has not supported sanctions against Russia. “We cannot break the bridge with Moscow, otherwise who will talk to them? We have decided to keep the channel open,” the Turkish presidential spokesman said on Monday, explaining that his country is in permanent contact with its Atlantic partners to inform them of the progress of the mediation between Ukraine and Russia. .