No breakthroughs after third round of Ukraine peace talks
Russia’s negotiating team said on Monday that talks with their Ukrainian counterparts in Belarus failed to live up to their expectations. However, while the Russian delegation cautioned that a breakthrough for now remains an “illusion,” both sides said that some progress was made on setting up evacuation routes for civilians.
Delegations from Moscow and Kiev met in Brest, Belarus on Monday, for the third round of peace talks aimed at resolving the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The expectations of the Russian side, Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky was quoted by RIA as saying, “did not materialize.” Another member of the Russian team, Leonid Slutsky, said that negotiations would continue, however “Moscow does not flatter itself with the illusion that next time a result will be achieved.”
Before negotiations began, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov laid out Russia’s demands in an interview with Reuters. Moscow wants Ukraine to amend its constitution to rule out NATO membership, to recognize Crimea as Russian territory, and to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, located in the predominantly Russian-speaking areas that broke away from Ukraine in 2014 and are collectively known as the Donbass region.
Should Ukraine meet these conditions, hostilities “will stop in a moment," Peskov stated. The Ukrainian side has thus far rejected these terms.
Despite the deadlock, both sides announced that progress had been made on setting up humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave combat zones. Attempts to do this in recent days collapsed, with both sides accusing each other of opening fire on these corridors. Most recently, Kiev rejected a ceasefire and evacuation routes proposed by Russia, calling it “immoral” that two of these corridors would lead toward Russia and Belarus.
Regarding allegations of Ukrainian forces opening fire on these routes previously, Mendinsky told reporters on Monday that these concerns were raised during talks, stating that “Ukrainian forces on the ground do not follow the orders of their commanders."
Following the discussions, Mendinsky said that “the Ukrainian side gave assurances” that the corridors would begin working on Tuesday.