Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine took place in Istanbul. What is their result?

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Photo author, Arda Kucukkaya / Anadolu Agency

Caption to the photo,

Before the talks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the participants

The Russian and Ukrainian delegations held talks in Istanbul after a long break. After the meeting, a representative of the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia would “at times” reduce the intensity of hostilities in northern Ukraine.

“Negotiations were constructive,” the head of the Russian delegation Vladimir Medinsky told reporters after the meeting.

He said that the Russian side had received from Ukraine for consideration their clearly formulated position for inclusion in the agreement. “These proposals will be considered in the near future, reported to the President, and our response will be given,” Medinsky said.

One of the first results of the talks was the statement of the Russian Ministry of Defense about a drastic reduction in hostilities in the Kiev and Chernihiv areas.

What did you manage to agree on?

Alexander Chaly, a participant in the talks on behalf of Ukraine, explained that before the conclusion of peace, Ukraine must hold a referendum in which citizens can support or reject the proposed version of the agreement.

Signing a contract is possible only after a complete ceasefire. Then the treaty must be ratified by the parliament of Ukraine and the parliaments of the guarantor countries.

Photo author, Cem Ozdel / Anadolu Agency

Caption to the photo,

Participants in the negotiations from Ukraine

Vladimir Medinsky proposed holding a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zelensky at the same time as initialing the agreement between the two countries at the level of foreign ministers.

So far, the Russian side has not accepted the offer of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to hold a bilateral meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The parties also agreed to discuss the issues of Crimea and Donbass separately. The Ukrainian side proposed the following scheme:

  • Negotiations on the status of Crimea and Sevastopol will continue for 15 years, the parties are abandoning an armed solution to this issue;
  • the question of the status and destiny of the districts controlled by the so-called “people’s republics” has been raised in a separate item and can be discussed by the presidents of the two countries in person;
  • Ukraine is ready to agree to the non-aligned status of a non-nuclear country with clear and strict guarantees from a number of countries. This must be documented.
  • The previous paragraph (if an agreement is reached) actually stipulates that foreign military bases and military contingents will not be stationed on the territory of Ukraine.
  • Ukraine undertakes not to join any military-political alliances. International military exercises on the territory of Ukraine will be able to be held only with the consent of the guarantor countries.

Ukraine has handed over to Russia its proposals for a security guarantee agreement for it, which makes it possible to end the war. This should be an international agreement, which will be signed by all guarantors of security, according to the Ukrainian delegation.

Ukraine sees Britain, China, the United States, Turkey, France, Canada, Italy, Poland and Israel as such guarantors. Some of them have already given their prior consent.

The agreement, as proposed by Ukraine, should also prescribe an effective mechanism for cooperation between the guarantor countries. In essence, this may be similar to Article 5 of the NATO Charter (“attacking one member of the alliance is tantamount to attacking the entire alliance”).

Photo author, Anadolu Agency

Caption to the photo,

This meeting of negotiators was the first in two weeks

If a war or other form of armed aggression starts against Ukraine, the guarantor countries hold consultations for three days, and then they are legally obliged to provide assistance to Ukraine.

According to David Arahamiya, a participant in the talks on the Ukrainian side, this proposal has only just been handed over to the Russian side, and now Kyiv is waiting for an answer.

Medinsky, in turn, called the proposals of the Ukrainian side a constructive step in the search for compromises and assured that Russia would consider them and give an appropriate response.

How were the negotiations?

These talks were the first in more than two weeks. The Russian delegation arrived the night before, and Ukrainian colleagues arrived even later, explaining this by a logistical hitch.

The current round of talks was mediated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Opening the meeting, he said that both the Ukrainian and Russian presidents are his friends, and he appreciates the friendship with them.

According to Erdogan, progress in these talks will pave the way for the two leaders to meet, and that Turkey is ready to provide a platform for them.

According to the Turkish leader, both Russia and Ukraine have well-founded concerns, but the moment has come when the talks should bring concrete results.

During the talks, Kirill Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the president’s office in charge of regional policy, was spotted as part of the Ukrainian delegation. The Russian delegation is represented by Presidential Aide Vladimir Medinsky.

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich was also present at the talks. Turkish television shows Abramovich sitting next to Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

It is known that after the start of the war, Abramovich acted as a mediator, traveling between Moscow and Kiev.

On Monday, there were reports that in early March, Abramovich and several other negotiators had symptoms of poisoning.

Later, a photo of Abramovich as part of the delegation was published by RIA Novosti. Abramovich’s role in the talks is unclear, but his spokesman said earlier that the businessman’s influence on the talks was limited.

Before today’s talks in Istanbul, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba advised all those who are going to negotiate with Russia not to eat or drink anything, and to avoid touching surfaces if possible.

What do the negotiators expect?

The Ukrainian side seeks a ceasefire without surrendering its territory and independence.

“We are not trading in people, land or sovereignty,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said earlier.

As the representative of Ukraine at the talks Mikhail Podoliak stated during the break, intensive consultations are underway on several important issues.

“The key is the agreement on international security guarantees for Ukraine, and only with this agreement can we end the war the way Ukraine needs it,” Podoliak said. He also mentioned the problem of ill-treatment of prisoners of war.

There are many assumptions about what Russia expects to receive following the talks in Istanbul.

According to the Financial Times, Moscow has renounced demands for the “denazification” of Ukraine and is now not against its accession to the European Union, if it is not about military cooperation.

The publication cites four sources, naming one of the conditions of a possible agreement between the countries – Ukraine’s refusal to join NATO in exchange for security guarantees from Russia.

At the same time, NATO countries are divided on the need to negotiate with Vladimir Putin, Bloomberg reports, citing sources.

Thus, according to the agency, France and Germany believe that it is necessary to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. These countries are in favor of dialogue with Russia.

According to other NATO members, including Britain and Poland, such an approach is counterproductive and could play into Putin’s hands, Bloomberg reports. They believe that the Russian president is not seriously considering the conclusion of a peace agreement, the agency adds.

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