For the first time in almost three weeks, representatives of Ukraine and Russia are speaking directly to each other today. They meet in Istanbul – mediated by Turkish President Erdogan. He sees a “positive direction”.
Representatives of Russia and Ukraine want to negotiate directly in Istanbul today for the first time in almost three weeks about a ceasefire in Ukraine. The talks are expected to last until Wednesday. According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the key issues include “security guarantees and neutrality” and Ukraine’s status as a “nuclear-weapon-free state”. Neutrality of Ukraine is one of the main Russian demands. Zelenskyj said on Sunday that his government would examine the issue “thoroughly”.
Initial negotiations at ministerial level on March 10 in Antalya, Turkey, failed to bring any concrete progress towards a ceasefire in Ukraine. Since then, talks have continued via video conference. Both parties to the conflict recently described it as “difficult”.
Before the talks began, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister also expressed skepticism about their chances of success. “If we see that they are ready for serious, substantive talks and balanced agreements, then things will move forward,” said Dmytro Kuleba. “If it’s a repeat of their propaganda, the talks will fail again.”
The Ukrainian side’s minimum goal is to improve the humanitarian situation in cities besieged by Russian troops, such as Mariupol, which was badly damaged. The desired goal is a stable ceasefire. Kuleba again pointed to the red lines of the Ukrainian government: “We are not swapping people, land and sovereignty. Our position is concrete.”
“It’s Putin who refuses so far”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said ahead of the meeting that he was in telephone contact with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, saying things were going in a “positive direction”.
The Turkish government’s goal is a direct meeting between Putin and Zelenskyy. “We believe that the war can only be ended by such a meeting,” said Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. “President Zelenskyy is ready for it. It is Putin who has so far refused.”
Russia attacked Ukraine almost five weeks ago. Fighting in Ukraine has continued in the past few hours. According to Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian military has achieved successes, but the situation remains tense.
In his evening video address, Zelenskyy said the Russian occupiers had been pushed back from the city of Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv. However, it is “still too early to speak of security in this part of our region”. The Russians continued to control the areas north of Kiev. The situation also remains “very difficult” in the Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Donbass and southern Ukraine regions.
British intelligence: Wagner mercenaries in eastern Ukraine
According to British secret services, the private Russian security company “Wagner Group” has been relocated to eastern Ukraine. They are expected to use more than 1,000 mercenaries, including senior leaders of the organization, to conduct combat operations, the UK Defense Ministry said in an update, citing intelligence information. Due to heavy casualties and the largely stalled invasion of Ukraine, Russia was most likely forced to reprioritize Wagner personnel for Ukraine at the expense of operations in Africa and Syria.
The “Wagner Group” is considered Russia’s “shadow army”. It is associated with crisis regions such as Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic and, most recently, Mali. The mercenaries are accused of serious human rights abuses, including torture and targeted killings. The Kremlin denies any connection to the mercenary force.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.