Crimea & Donbass Issue, Non-Bloc Status: Ukraine Rolls out Proposals at Talks With Russia
11:50 GMT 29.03.2022 (Updated: 14:58 GMT 29.03.2022)
© POOLСhief Russian Negotiator Vladimir Medinsky (left) and Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin (right)
The delegations of Russia and Ukraine met in Istanbul earlier today for a new round of negotiations to end the special military operation that Moscow launched on 24 February.
Russian delegation received a "clearly articulated position" from Ukraine during the negotiations in Istanbul, Turkey on 29 March, chief Russian Negotiator Vladimir Medinsky has stated. He added that today's negotiations were "constructive" in their nature. He noted that Kiev's written proposals signalled Ukraine's readiness for compromise.
"We have received written proposals from Ukraine confirming their readiness for a neutral, non-aligned and non-nuclear status, along with a refusal to produce and deploy all types of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and bacteriological ones, and a ban on the presence of foreign military bases and foreign troops on the territory of the country", Medinsky said.
The head of the Russian delegation also revealed other proposals discussed with the Ukrainian delegation:
Russia will not object to Ukraine joining the European Union
Ukraine will reject the idea of returning Crimea and Donbass using military means
Ukraine presented a list of guarantor-states that will ensure its security
The Ukrainian proposal on international guarantees for its safety does not include the territories of Donbass and Crimea.
Kiev will not allow foreign troops or foreign military bases to be deployed on its territory without the explicit consent from all guarantor-states. The same goes for holding military drills.
The Ukrainian delegation proposed making the permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as Germany, Canada, Poland, Israel, and Turkey the guarantor states that would ensure Ukraine's security.
Medinsky elaborated that the position of Kiev will be reviewed by Moscow and presented to President Vladimir Putin. After that, the Kremlin will give its response on whether it agrees to include Kiev's propositions in a final agreement between Russia and Ukraine, the negotiator explained.
Medinsky said that the Russian delegation is leaving Istanbul on 29 March and that further negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will continue via video conferences for now.
Russia to Take De-Escalation Steps
The Russian chief negotiator also announced Moscow's plans to take military and political de-escalation steps. The military de-escalation will take the form of a "significant reduction" of military activities in the Kiev and Chernigov directions. The political de-escalation step suggests the possibility of a personal meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents at the stage of preliminary approval of the final version of the agreement.
"The proposed format was as follows: first, a treaty is prepared, then the treaty is approved by the negotiators, endorsed by the foreign ministers [of Russia and Ukraine] at a meeting, after which the possibility of a meeting of the heads of state to sign this treaty will be discussed", Medinsky said.
The Russian Defence Ministry explained the decision to de-escalate the military situation by the fact that negotiations on Ukraine's neutral and non-nuclear status, as well as security guarantees for the country, have become more "practical". The ministry stated that the step was necessary to increase a level of mutual trust in negotiations and ultimately to sign an agreement.
The head of the Russian delegation later noted that military de-escalation does not entail a ceasefire in the Kiev and Chernigov directions. At the same time, he noted that Russia understands that decision-makers are located in Kiev and thus does not want to put Kiev at greater risk.
Medinsky, in turn, said that Presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky could discuss political details of the agreement when they meet for the initialling of the agreement.
During the previous rounds of talks, the delegations only managed to agree on opening humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens from Ukrainian cities where the country’s military and nationalist battalions were fighting troops of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR), as well as Russian forces taking part in the special military operation. The latter was launched on 24 February by Putin in response to a request from the DPR and LPR to defend them against continued attacks by Kiev's forces.
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