The progress is notable. However, they remain declarative and, despite unprecedented progress in the Russian-Ukrainian talks, doubt remains as to Moscow’s real intentions. At the end of a new negotiation session which took place on Tuesday March 29 in the Ottoman palace of Dolmabahce in Istanbul (Turkey), the Kremlin promised to drastically reduce its military activities in the north of the country and on the outskirts of kyiv. while the Ukrainian side was able to make strong demands. But by showing itself to be relatively conciliatory more than a month after the start of an intervention against Ukraine, which has largely bogged down, the Russian side could simply be trying to buy time.
For their part, the Ukrainian negotiators arrived with a draft agreement whose central point is that their country would opt for a status of neutrality, giving up joining NATO and hosting foreign bases on its soil, in exchange for guarantees. for his safety. According to David Arakhamia, the head of the Ukrainian delegation, they will have to be as solid as those offered by article 5 of the treaty of the Atlantic Alliance calling on the solidarity of the members in the event of an attack against one of them. . Three NATO member countries – Turkey, Poland and Canada – have been cited as possible guarantor states. Furthermore, kyiv intends to receive guarantees regarding its integration into the European Union (EU).
The thorny subjects, i.e. the status of Crimea annexed by Russia and the Donbass territories controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, should also be the subject of separate and long-term negotiations. kyiv insists that any peace agreement will have to be approved by referendum, which implies the withdrawal of Russian forces from occupied areas. “We are almost now arriving at positions that can be endorsed by the Russian Federation and by the guarantor countries” said Mykhailo Podolyak, a member of the Ukrainian delegation. For his part, the head of the Russian delegation and representative of the Kremlin, Vladimir Medinsky, reported “substantial talks” and said that the proposals “clear” of Ukraine with a view to an agreement were going to be “studied very soon and submitted to the President” Vladimir Poutine.
“Big doubts about the sincerity of the Russians”
According to him, a meeting of the Ukrainian leaders, Volodymyr Zelensky, and Russian, Vladimir Putin, and representatives of the guarantor states, would be possible in the event of an agreement to end the hostilities. “This is the most significant progress since the start of negotiations”estimated Mevlüt Cavusoglu, the head of Turkish diplomacy, whose country welcomes direct negotiations between Russians and Ukrainians. “From now on, it will be up to the foreign ministers of the two countries to meet to resolve the most difficult issues”he concluded, indicating that the talks “would not resume” Wednesday, contrary to what was planned.
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