Ukraine says no ceasefire deal reached with Russia during Turkey talks

(Updates headline, lede, adds details throughout)

Ankara, Mar 10 (EFE).- Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said no agreement on a ceasefire was reached with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during face-to-face talks in Turkey on Thursday.

The session, which was brokered by Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, was the first meeting between the top diplomats since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began two weeks ago.

Kuleba told reporters that he had floated the idea of a 24-hour ceasefire during his meeting with Lavrov, but that no progress was made.

“I have come with a humanitarian goal. To open a humanitarian corridor for people who want to leave Mariupol. Unfortunately, minister Lavrov was not in a position to commit,” Kulena told reporters.

“The most critical place is now Mariupol, bombarded from the air and with artillery. I came here to get a humanitarian corridor that allows civilians who want to flee the city and to bring humanitarian aid,” the minister added.

On Wednesday, Russian forces bombarded a children’s hospital in the besieged southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, killing at least one and wounding 17, Ukraine government and local city officials reported.

Lavrov on Thursday claimed the hospital was being used as a base for the “ultra-radical Azov battalion” and that civilians had been chased out of the complex, although provided no evidence for this.

“It is not the first time we see pathetic outcries concerning so-called atrocities,” he said.

According to Kuleba, Russia said it would continue with its military operation until the end or the surrender of the Ukrainian people, which is “unacceptable”.

“I want to repeat that Ukraine has not surrendered, does not surrender, and will not surrender,” Kuleba said.

Lavrov reiterated that Russia’s military operation in Ukraine was “going according to plan” and claimed that Moscow had not attacked Ukraine nor did it intend to attack another country.

“We just explained to Ukraine repeatedly that a situation had arisen that posed direct security threats to Russia. Despite our years-long reminding, persuasion, calls, no one listened to us,” Lavrov told reporters after the talks.

The Russian diplomat added that president Vladimir Putin would consider a meeting with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“We see how dangerously our Western counterparts, including the European Union, are acting now. In breach of their principles and so-called values, they are actually encouraging supplies of deadly weapons to Ukraine, including thousands of man-portable air defense systems,” Lavrov warned.

Moscow is steadfast in its demands which include the demilitarization of Ukraine, the recognition of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and the independence of the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Regarding Putin’s other demands, Ukraine has hinted this week that it could negotiate a neutral status after giving up on applying for NATO membership. However, Zelenskyy’s government has reiterated it will not give up any of Ukraine’s territories.

Turkey, a NATO member, has condemned Russia’s invasion that began on February 24 as “illegal and unjust” and supporting “the territorial integrity of Ukraine”, including Crimea, but Ankara has refrained from joining international sanctions targeting Moscow. EFE


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