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Russia, Ukraine Set for Late-Night Negotiations in Istanbul

Putin ‘not ready to make compromises’ • Delegations to meet with Erdogan before talks begin
Ukrainian and Russian flags are seen on a table before the talks between officials of the two countries in the Brest region, Belarus March 3, 2022
Ukrainian and Russian flags are seen on a table before the talks between officials of the two countries in the Brest region, Belarus March 3, 2022

Russian negotiators have landed in Istanbul ahead of another round of ceasefire talks with Ukrainian representatives, Russian state-owned news outlet TASS reported on Monday.

Talks were set to begin at 10:30 p.m. local time at the Dolmabahçe Palace, the largest in Istanbul, Ukrainian news outlet Ukrinform reported. The delegations from Kyiv and Moscow were set to meet with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to the start of the talks, Ukrinform added.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday said Ukraine’s most ambitious goal at talks with Russia in Turkey this week was to agree a ceasefire.

“The minimum program will be humanitarian questions, and the maximum program is reaching an agreement on a ceasefire,” he said on national television, when asked about the scope of the latest round of peace negotiations that are expected to kick off tomorrow.

Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed in a call on Sunday for Istanbul to host the talks, which Ankara hopes will lead to a ceasefire and a halt to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This current round of talks in Turkey is expected to carry on to Tuesday.

Turkey is among countries that could offer Kyiv security guarantees as part of any deal with Russia to end the war in Ukraine, a senior Ukrainian official said on Monday. “Turkey is among those countries that could become guarantors of our security in the future,” Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of Zelensky’s office, said ahead of peace talks scheduled between Kyiv and Moscow in Turkey.

Kyiv has said it wants legally binding security guarantees that would offer Ukraine protection from a group of allies in the event of a future attack.

Negotiations with Russia have not made much progress, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday evening that Russia had made public statements about demands of  “denazification” and demilitarization to delay talks.

Despite talks resuming in Turkey, Putin does not appear ready to make compromises to end the war in Ukraine, a senior US official said on Monday. “Everything I have seen is he is not willing to compromise at this point,” the senior US State Department official told Reuters on condition of anonymity after Ukraine’s president sketched out a potential way to end the crisis over the weekend.

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