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10 Mar, 2022 04:05

Russian and Ukrainian chief diplomats arrive in Turkey ahead of talks

Thursday will see the highest-profile negotiations since the start of the military conflict in Ukraine
Russian and Ukrainian chief diplomats arrive in Turkey ahead of talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba have reportedly landed in Turkey, where officials have offered to mediate talks between the two top diplomats.

Moscow’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that Lavrov was set to depart for the Turkish resort city of Antalya on Wednesday, with local media reports later noting that both he and Kuleba had arrived for the peace negotiations, set for Thursday at the Regnum Carya Hotel.

A spokesperson for the Ukraine Foreign Ministry, Oleg Nikolenko, confirmed Kuleba’s arrival at the resort on Twitter.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu first announced the planned meeting on Monday, voicing hopes it would mark “a turning point and... an important step towards peace and stability.” He said the talks were brokered following “intensive diplomatic efforts” by Ankara, and that he would be present for the dialogue.

US President Joe Biden is also set to hold a call with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the situation in Ukraine on Thursday, the White House has confirmed.

The meeting in Antalya will follow three rounds of talks in Belarus – a close Russian ally – which produced limited humanitarian corridor plans in several Ukrainian cities but few other results. Since then, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signaled willingness to discuss key Russian demands, including the recognition of Crimea as a Russian territory and the status of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk republics.

Moscow attacked Kiev in late February, following a seven-year stand off over Ukraine's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk peace agreements, and Russia's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularise the status of the regions inside the Ukrainian state.

Russia claims its so-called “special military operation” was launched in defense of the two separatist republics in the Donbass region, though the mission has since extended into major Ukrainian cities. Kiev, meanwhile, has denounced the offensive as unprovoked, insisting it had no plans to reclaim the separatist areas by force.

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