Conflicts & War

Erdogan: Kyiv rejects talks with Moscow on status of Crimea, Donbas

Istanbul, Mar 24 (EFE).- Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have made progress on some issues, but Kyiv is unwilling to bargain with Moscow over the status of Crimea and Donbas, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.

“It can be said that there are accords on some issues, be it NATO, be it disarmament, be it collective security or official status for the Russian language,” Erdogan told Turkish reporters from Brussels.

But Ukraine does not appear ready to discuss renouncing its claims to Crimea or Donbas, the president said after taking part in a special NATO summit in the Belgian capital.

The goals that Russia announced at the start of its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 included a commitment from Kyiv to eschew NATO membership and proclaim its neutrality, demilitarization of the country, and an end to discrimination against Russian-speakers.

Moscow, however, also demands that Ukraine accept Crimea’s incorporation into Russia and wants Kyiv to acknowledge the independence of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics in the eastern region known as the Donbas.

Crimea was added to the-then Soviet Republic of Ukraine in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchev and Russia kept its long-time naval base on the Black Sea after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 under a lease arrangement.

When a Ukrainian nationalist government took power in Kyiv in February 2014, Moscow’s forces in Crimea moved to take control and the region’s mainly Russian and Tatar residents voted to rejoin Russia, though the West dismissed the referendum as illegitimate.

In the Donbas, ethnic Russians also unhappy with the change of government in Kyiv rose up and proclaimed their independence, setting off an internal conflict that claimed some 14,000 lives over the last eight years.

Turkey, a NATO member on friendly terms with both Ukraine and Russia, has sought to broker a settlement.

Erdogan said Thursday that he remains in regular contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russia’s Vladimir Putin and that Turkey would be happy to host direct talks between the two leaders. EFE iut/dr

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