Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine ended on Tuesday with both sides emphasizing the importance of the negotiations and a willingness to compromise.
Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, hosted the fifth round of Ukrainian and Russian peace talks. The Russian delegation described the more than four hours of talks as positive. Alexander Fomin, Deputy Minister of Defense, spoke to reporters after the talks and promised a reduction in military operations.
To increase mutual trust and assistance, he said, a decision was made to reduce military activity in the Kiev and Chernihiv areas.
The Russian delegation said further steps to reduce military operations would be discussed with their return to Moscow. Tuesday’s talks focused on Russia’s demand that Ukraine become neutral and end its aspirations to join NATO. The Ukrainian delegation suggested that eight countries should guarantee its security, including Poland, Israel and Turkey, in exchange for neutrality.
Mykhailo Podolyak, the Ukrainian negotiator, spoke to reporters and said international sponsors were the key to accepting neutrality.
He said intensive consultations were under way on several issues, the most important of which was agreement on international security guarantees for Ukraine. That agreement, Podolyak added, is needed to end the war.
The delegations also discussed proposals on the disputed status of the self-proclaimed breakaway republics of Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea, which annexed Russia.
Ukraine is demanding their return, while Moscow is asking for their international recognition as independent states and Crimea as Russia’s sovereign territory. Among the proposals discussed was that Crimea’s status would be subject to a consultation period of 15 years.
But the Ukrainian delegation insisted that such a step would be possible only in the event of a complete ceasefire. Expectations were low ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed the talks had made the most progress since the start of the war.
Analyst Sinan Ulgen said the Ukrainian-Russian negotiations in Istanbul stressed the importance of Turkey, which was careful to maintain good ties with both sides during peace efforts.
“As a result of this balanced policy, Turkey is one of the few actors that can currently play a constructive diplomatic role. That diplomatic role can best be described as’ good office ‘, which is more than a facilitator, but less than’ a mediator, “Ulgen saud.
But analysts suggest a meeting of Ukrainian and Russian presidents is key to ending the conflict. While Kiev says it is ready for such a summit, Moscow insists that it will only be possible if there are concrete proposals to discuss. Tuesday’s meeting may seem like the first step in that process.