International

Russia says will ‘radically reduce military activity in Ukraine capital Kyiv, Chernihiv

After Tuesday’s in-person talks ended between Russia and Ukraine, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said there had been ‘intensive consultations’ on several issues.

Russia will “radically reduce military activity” in Ukraine capital Kyiv and the city of Chernihiv in order to “increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations”, Russian deputy defense minister Alexander Fomin said after peace talks Tuesday.

The second step towards de-escalation of the conflict was the possibility of holding a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, according to state news media RIA.

Fomin told reporters: “Due to the fact that negotiations on the preparation of an agreement on the neutrality and non-nuclear status of Ukraine, as well as on the provision of security guarantees to Ukraine, are moving into practice, taking into account the principles discussed during today’s meeting, by the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation in order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and achieving the ultimate goal of agreeing on the signing of the above agreement, a decision was made to radically, at times, reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv direction.”

It would appear from Fomin’s comment that breakthroughs have been achieved on issues regarding Ukraine’s “neutrality” and “non-nuclear status”, as well as “security guarantees” for the country.

Zelenskyy had told independent Russian journalists on Sunday that he would abandon his push to join NATO ahead of the talks. He had, however, said the issue of neutrality and non-nuclear status should be put before Ukrainian voters in a referendum after Russian troops withdrew.

Kyiv negotiators also called for an “international” accord on Tuesday to guarantee Ukrainian security. Zelenskyy has said any constitutional changes that related to security guarantees would also be decided through a referendum and not by him alone.

The delegates of the two sides met Tuesday at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul for in-person peace talks.

The Russian side was led by Alexander Fomin and included negotiator Vladimir Medinsky, while David Arakhamia was the head of the Ukrainian delegation.

Medinsky called the talks “constructive”, RIA reported.

After the talks ended, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said there were “intensive consultations” on several issues.

“The key one is the agreement on international security guarantees for Ukraine. Only with this agreement can we end the war as Ukraine needs,” CNN quoted Podolyak. Ukraine has demanded binding security guarantees as a prerequisite for adopting a neutral status.

Another issue discussed was a ceasefire, so that “all humanitarian problems could be resolved”, Podolyak said.

Stating there was now a “likelihood” of the two presidents meeting, Podolyak said the talks would “continue online 24/7”, and that Ukraine needed “clear legal wording”.

Before the talks began, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said now was the time to “expect solid outcomes” between Russia and Ukraine.

Erdogan stressed on Tuesday that “it was up to both sides to stop this tragedy”.

He said: “We think we’re in a period where we should expect solid outcomes from negotiations. You’re laying the foundations of peace with the directives of your leaders,” he said, underscoring that an “immediate ceasefire and peace would benefit all”.

Erdogan said it “was possible to reach an agreement that could address both countries’ legitimate concerns”.

The Turkish President told reporters last week that Ukraine and Russia seemed to have agreed on four of the six topics discussed during earlier negotiations. These would include Russia’s demands that Ukraine stay out of NATO and adopt Russian as its official language.