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Russia-Ukraine : Negotiations in Istanbul

| 29.3.22 |

Russia-Ukraine : Negotiations in Istanbul

 The Moscow and Kiev delegations have just met in a long-awaited new meeting in Turkey suitable for, hopefully, a peace dialogue. The summit comes three weeks after the last meeting that led to a stalemate. For the Ukrainian front, face-to-face meetings should be aimed at agreeing to a ceasefire in Ukraine or at least finding an agreement for humanitarian assistance to the refugees. 

The Russian agency Interfax, citing an informed source, wrote in a statement that "questions about the conditions for Ukraine's possible neutral status have been raised". The Russian and Ukrainian delegations were welcomed at the Dolmabahce palace, President Erdogan's office on the shores of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. According to the BBC, the negotiators were seated at a long table clad in white, facing each other. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged negotiators involved in talks with Russia in Istanbul to "not eat or drink anything and should avoid touching surfaces". The first official words came from the Turkish president who opened the meeting, recalling how the two leaders were “friends” to him: “Progress in peace talks between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations in Turkey could pave the way for meetings at the leadership level. 

On all international platforms we have demonstrates a fair approach that defends the rights and sensitivities of both parties."
Also present, though sidelined, was oligarch Roman Abramovich, who already spoke with Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan before the start of negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul. According to the BBC, in images broadcast by Turkish media, Abramovich is seen not sitting at the main table of the Russian and Ukrainian delegations, but sideways beside Ibrahim Kalin, President Erdogan's spokesman, and wearing headphones to translate. Kalin allegedly helped coordinate a meeting between Russian oligarchs and a member of the Ukrainian delegation at a hotel in Istanbul. 

Abramovich's presence suggests that he is still involved to some degree in mediation efforts. The heads of the Ukrainian and Russian delegations, David Arakhamia and Vladimir Medinsky, met in person "on the fundamental provisions of the negotiating process", while "the delegation worked in parallel on the entire spectrum of controversial issues.". The meeting took place about an hour after the two joined the negotiating table in full. Also Kuleba, hours after the meeting, had stated at the negotiations that "the minimum goals are humanitarian corridors and the maximum achievement of an agreement on a ceasefire", said on national television, while Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenkosi was skeptical about the possibility of change.
Vladimir Putin, however, does not appear ready to compromise to end the war, according to internal US sources.

 Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was important to resume talks, although so far no substantial progress has been made. Today's negotiations come after hot days back and forth between the Russian and American presidents. Ukraine's neutrality status is also on the table, while Russia in turn may no longer ask Ukraine to be "denazified". But Kuleba remains very cautious: "We don't trade in people, land or sovereignty." Meanwhile, the United Nations asked to investigate the torture of prisoners of war.

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