Russia, during the ongoing peace talk between Ukraine, has announced that it will “drastically reduce” military combat operations in two key areas of Ukraine “to boost mutual trust”.
During the talks in Turkey’s capital, Istanbul, Ukraine proposed to become a neutral state in exchange for security guarantees. A key aim of Russia’s invasion is to stop Ukraine from joining the NATO alliance. Russian Officials disclosed that the talks now moved to a practical stage.
Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister, Alexander Fomin, who is in Istanbul, told a Russian based media agency that as “Ukraine’s neutrality and non-nuclear status and security guarantees” has progressed, the Defence Ministry has taken the decision to cut its operations dramatically in the two areas to “create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and for the signing of the aforementioned agreement”.
Viewpoints of Russia and Ukraine Negotiators
Ukrainian Negotiator, Oleksandr Chaly, intimated that its [Ukraine] offer of neutrality is a chance to “restore the territorial integrity and security of Ukraine through diplomatic and political means”. Ukraine’s aim is to “fix its status as a de facto non-bloc and non-nuclear state in the form of permanent neutrality”.
Russia’s Chief Negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, described the talks as “meaningful” and Ukraine’s proposals on neutrality would be put to President Vladimir Putin, holding out the possibility of a summit involving Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
However, Medinsky, made it clear that before that could happen, a treaty would have to be drafted and approved by negotiators and then signed by Foreign Ministers.
“This is not a ceasefire but this is our aspiration, gradually to reach a de-escalation of the conflict at least on these fronts.”Russia’s Chief Negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky
Russia already refocused its military campaign on “liberating” Ukraine’s Eastern Regions. It has suffered a series of setbacks to the North-West of the capital, Kyiv, and is also seeking to capture a land corridor along the South coast, from Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, to the Russian border.
The decision to scale back operations around Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and the Northern City of Chernihiv is the first sign of tangible progress in the talks since Russia’s invasion on Thursday, February 24, 2022. But the US has reacted with scepticism.
The viewpoint of US
According to officials in Washington, they saw the Russians drawing away from Kyiv, but they are still pounding the capital with airstrikes and the US has little confidence that it marked any significant shift or meaningful retreat.
US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said the US has not seen “signs of seriousness” from Russia in pursuing peace talks, pointing to the continued “brutalisation” of Ukraine’s people.
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s spokesman also said Russia has twisted the knife in Ukraine and that “we must judge Putin’s regime by their actions not their words”.
Prior to launching the invasion, Mr. Putin described NATO as a threat that was becoming more dangerous to Russia by the year. However, there was no mention in the talks of Mr. Putin’s regular demands that Ukraine be demilitarised or that it be “de-Nazified”, an allegation that has been widely ridiculed as Russian propaganda.
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