Russia to scale back Kyiv, Chernihiv activity as peace talks progress
(Update 1: Changes headline, re-ledes, adds details throughout)
Istanbul, Mar 29 (EFE).- Russia will significantly reduce its military activity around Kyiv and Chernihiv, Russian deputy defense minister Alexander Fomin said Tuesday.
The move was announced in light of a new round of in-person peace talks being held in Istanbul, more than a month after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“In order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for continuing negotiations and achieving the goal of reaching consensus and signing an agreement, the Russian defense ministry decided to significantly reduce military activity around Kyiv and Chernigov” Fomin said.
The Russian official added he was confident that “corresponding decisions will be taken in Kyiv.”
Head of the Russian delegation at the Istanbul talks, Vladimir Medinsky, called the negotiations “constructive” and for the first time spoke of a possible deal between Moscow and Kyiv.
“After today’s substantive talk, we have agreed and proposed an arrangement, which could possibly result in a meeting between the heads of state,” Medinsky said, referring to Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Meanwhile, Ukraine said it was willing to drop its bid to join Nato if 10 countries signed a legally binding agreement to guarantee the country’s security.
“We want a functioning international mechanism similar to Nato Article 5,” the head of the Ukrainian delegation, Davyd Arakhamia, told reporters in Istanbul.
“We would like the guarantor countries to be the countries of the United Nations Security Council – the United Kingdom, China, Russia, the United States and France – as well as Turkey, Germany, Canada, Poland, and Israel,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed both delegations at his office in Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.
“With a sense of responsibility, I am sure they can reach a permanent ceasefire,” Erdogan said during a speech to the warring sides’ delegations.
Erdogan clarified Turkey would not be mediating directly in these talks.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, met in the Turkish city of Antalya on March 10, the first face-to-face discussions held between senior diplomats since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, but no significant progress was made.
Negotiators from Ukraine and Russia have met three times in Belarus, while further talks were held via video conferencing.
Last week, Erdogan said the warring sides had reached a consensus on four of the six main issues to end the war, including Kyiv’s commitment not to join Nato.
But there has been no progress regarding the situation in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and the breakaway eastern Ukrainian separatist region of Donbas.EFE