Talk of ‘compromise’ as Russia-Ukraine peace talks set to resume | Russo-Ukrainian War


Russia says parts of a potential peace deal with Ukraine are close to being agreed after kyiv hinted at a possible path for compromise, raising hopes that the three-week war will end .

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the talks were becoming “more realistic”, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was “some hope for compromise”, with a neutral status for Ukraine – a major Russian demand – now on the table.

“Neutral status is now being seriously discussed with, of course, security guarantees,” Lavrov told RBC News on Wednesday.

“Now this very thing is being discussed in the negotiations – there are absolutely specific wordings that I think are close to an agreement,” Lavrov said.

He said President Vladimir Putin had talked about neutrality, as well as security guarantees for Ukraine without NATO enlargement, as a possible variant in February.

The Kremlin also said on Wednesday that a demilitarized Ukraine with its own army modeled on Austria or Sweden was seen as a possible compromise.

“It is a variant which is currently under discussion and which could really be considered as a compromise,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying.

But the Ukrainian presidency said soon after that it rejected proposals for neutrality models based on Austria or Sweden.

“Ukraine is now in a state of direct war with Russia. Accordingly, the model can only be ‘Ukrainian’ and only on legally verified security guarantees,” its chief negotiator Mikhailo Podolyak said in comments published by Zelenskyy’s office.

He called for a legally binding security agreement, signed by international partners, who “would not stand aside in the event of an attack on Ukraine, as they are doing today”.

Meanwhile, talks were due to resume on Wednesday via video link for what would be a third consecutive day, the first time they have lasted more than a day, which both sides say means they entered a more serious phase.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, said the fact that talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials had continued for the third day was “a good sign”.

As early as 2008, NATO promised Ukraine that it would one day become a member of the alliance. Russia has said it cannot allow this to happen and cited it as part of the logic of what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Lavrov warned that the negotiations were not easy but that there was “some hope to reach a compromise”.

Ukraine has also made cautious positive statements about the peace talks. He says he is ready to negotiate to end the war, but will not surrender or accept Russian ultimatums.

Lavrov said key issues included the security of people in eastern Ukraine, the demilitarization of Ukraine and the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine.

“More realistic” negotiations

Hopes for diplomatic progress rose after Zelenskyy said on Tuesday that Ukraine had realized it could not join NATO, his most explicit acknowledgment that the goal, enshrined in Ukraine’s constitution, was unlikely to be achieved.

Putin has long portrayed Ukraine’s NATO aspirations as a threat to Russia, which the alliance denies.

Lavrov welcomed Zelenskyy’s comment on Russian broadcaster RBK TV on Wednesday, saying the “entrepreneurship” starting to surface in the talks “gives hope that we can agree on this issue.”

Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said the sides were discussing a possible compromise idea for a future Ukraine with a smaller, non-aligned military.

Zelenskyy said Russia’s demands in the negotiations were becoming “more realistic” and that more time was needed for the talks, which were being held via video conference.

“Meetings are continuing and, I have been informed, the positions in the negotiations already seem more realistic,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

He called for more weapons and more sanctions against Russia, and reiterated his call to “close the skies over Ukraine to Russian missiles and planes.”

The Ukrainian leader said on Tuesday that Russian forces were unable to penetrate deeper into Ukrainian territory and continued their intensive bombardment of cities.

Announcing the invasion on February 24, Putin blamed the United States for threatening Russia by expanding the NATO military alliance east into Russia’s backyard.

The Russian president said there was no choice but to launch the military operation because Russian-speakers in Ukraine had been victims of genocide by “nationalists and neo-Nazis” since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.

Ukraine and the West say the genocide allegations are baseless.


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