Negotiations in Istanbul: what was agreed

Russia has announced that it is “drastically” reducing its military activity in the Kiev and Chernihiv regions of Ukraine after “constructive” Ukrainian-Russian talks in Istanbul.

The first day of the fourth round of talks between Russia and Ukraine ended in Istanbul. A statement on its results was made by the assistant to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Medinsky. According to him, the Russian Federation received proposals from the Ukrainian side to conclude a peace treaty.

“Negotiations with the Ukrainian side were constructive, we received proposals for inclusion in the agreement, they will be considered in the near future. For my part, I can say that we are taking two steps towards de-escalation of the conflict,” Medinsky said.

The two steps are as follows: in the military sphere there will be a drastic reduction in military activity in the Kiev and Chernigov directions, in the political sphere – the possibility of a meeting between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine simultaneously with the initialing of the peace treaty by the foreign ministers. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has already announced a reduction in military activity.

Ankara notes the rapprochement of the positions of Kyiv and Moscow in the negotiations on the cessation of hostilities.

This was announced by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu following the meeting of the Ukrainian and Russian delegations, which took place in Istanbul on Tuesday, March 29. According to him, more complex topics are now to be discussed during the next rounds of talks at the level of foreign ministers of the two countries.

“At the Ukrainian-Russian talks in Istanbul, a number of issues were agreed upon and positions converged. More complex topics on the agenda of negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow will be considered at subsequent stages by the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and the Russian Federation,” Cavusoglu said.

Offers of Ukraine

Oleksandr Chaly, a participant in the negotiations from Ukraine, explained that before the conclusion of peace, Ukraine should hold a referendum in which citizens can support or reject the proposed version of the treaty. Its signing is possible only after a complete ceasefire. Then the agreement must be ratified by the Parliament of Ukraine and the parliaments of the guarantor countries.

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 go on for 15 years, the parties refuse to use armed methods to resolve this issue;
  • the question of the status and fate of the regions controlled by the so-called “people’s republics” has been placed in a separate paragraph, it can be discussed by the presidents of the two countries at a personal meeting;
  • Ukraine is ready to agree to a non-bloc status of a non-nuclear country in the presence of clear and strict guarantees from a number of countries. This must be documented.
  • The previous paragraph (if an agreement on it is reached) actually provides that foreign military bases and military contingents will not be deployed on the territory of Ukraine.
  • Ukraine undertakes not to enter into any military-political alliances. International military exercises on the territory of Ukraine can be held only with the consent of the guarantor countries.

Ukraine has submitted to Russia its proposals for a treaty on security guarantees for it, which makes it possible to end the war. This should be an international treaty, which will be signed by all security guarantors, the Ukrainian delegation believes. Ukraine sees the UK, China, the USA, Turkey, France, Canada, Italy, Poland and Israel as such guarantors. Some of them have already given prior consent.

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

Vladimir Medinsky voiced proposalsput forward by the Ukrainian delegation, adding that Ukraine should be proclaimed a “permanently neutral state under international legal guarantees” in order to implement a non-aligned nuclear-free status. Security guarantees do not apply to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol – Ukraine refuses to return them by military means, but notes that this can only be achieved through negotiations. In addition, these guarantees do not apply to the territories of the DNR and LNR.

Ukraine refuses from joining military alliances, placing foreign bases, as well as conducting military exercises on its territory (without the consent of the guarantor states). For its part, Russia does not prevent Ukraine from joining EU.

Medinsky named 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.

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