Istanbul to host Ukraine-Russia talks

Istanbul to host Ukraine-Russia talks

Istanbul to host Ukraine-Russia talks

Russian and Ukrainian delegations will hold the second round of face-to-face negotiations in Turkey’s Istanbul in a bid to reach a ceasefire.

Peace talks between Ukraine and Russia will be hosted by Turkey, the Turkish Presidential Communications Directorate announced on March 27 following a phone conversation between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

The Turkish president told his Russian counterpart that a ceasefire and better humanitarian conditions were needed.

“Erdoğan noted the importance of a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, the implementation of peace and the improvement of humanitarian conditions in the region,” the statement said.

Erdoğan told Putin that Turkey would continue to contribute in every possible way during this process, according to the statement.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held phone talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on March 27 and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on March 28 and discussed the situation in Ukraine and the planned negotiations.

Çavuşoğlu, meanwhile, said Turkey acknowledges its responsibility for efforts to resolve the Russia-Ukrainian conflict.

“Upon the initiative of Erdoğan, the negotiation delegations of Russia and Ukraine will meet in Turkey. We are aware of the responsibility stemming from the trust vested in Turkey by both sides. We hope the meetings will result in a lasting ceasefire and enable peace,” Çavuşoğlu tweeted.

Davyd Arakhamia, a Ukrainian delegate in talks with Russia on ending the war, said in a Facebook post the countries would meet in Turkey beginning March 28. However, the Russians then announced the talks would start on March 29. The sides have met previously with no deal reached.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the resumption of over-the-table talks, saying they must bring peace “without delay” and signaling a willingness to compromise on the most sensitive topics.

The fate of Russian-occupied Donbas and Crimea, as well as fundamental disagreements about Kiev’s alignment with the West, are again set to be the focus of negotiations. “Our goal is obvious -- peace and the restoration of normal life in our native state as soon as possible,” Zelensky said in a late-night video message that also set out his negotiating red lines.

“Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt. Effective security guarantees for our state are mandatory,” he said. Zelensky had previously indicated he is “carefully” considering a Russian demand of Ukrainian “neutrality” and indicated that he was willing to negotiate the future of Donbas at a later date. “We understand that it is impossible to liberate all territory by force, that would mean World War III, I fully understand and realize that,” he said.

For his part, Putin has avoided clearly defining the goals of his invasion, stating only that he wants to “demilitarise and denazify” but not occupy Ukraine.

The Kremlin said that the talks between Russia and Ukraine may get under way in Turkey on March 29. “While we cannot and will not speak about progress at the talks, the fact that they continuing to take place in person is important, of course,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“We are adhering to a policy of not disclosing any information about the talks, which we think could only hurt the negotiation process,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a meeting between Putin and Zelensky would be counterproductive if it were held now. “A meeting between Putin and Zelenskiy is needed as soon as we will be close to resolving all key issues,” Lavrov said in an interview with Serbian media.

Turkey is among the countries that could offer Ukraine security guarantees as part of any deal with Russia to end the war in Ukraine, Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, said ahead of peace talks scheduled between Kiev and Moscow in Turkey.