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31 Mar, 2022 13:56

Kremlin weighs in on conditions for Putin – Zelensky meeting

Talks between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents are possible only after agreements have been finalized, claims Kremlin spokesperson
Kremlin weighs in on conditions for Putin – Zelensky meeting

There is currently no clear timeframe for a possible meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but before it could even happen, all agreements between the two nations must be finalized, says Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. The talks between Moscow and Kiev delegations are ongoing amid the military conflict in Ukraine.

“Nothing has changed in this regard. We’ve stated before that a meeting at the highest level must be preceded by the finalization of work on the agreements, the endorsement and initialing of these texts by the top officials,” Peskov told journalists. “I wouldn’t define any clear timeframe.”

Earlier this week, Turkey, which refused to slap sanctions on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine, hosted negotiations between Moscow and Kiev delegations. After the talks, Russian top negotiator Vladimir Medinsky announced that Ukraine had presented written proposals concerning a possible agreement between the two nations, which included commitments to forego NATO membership and nuclear weapons.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he considered the results of the negotiations “significant progress,” as the Ukrainian side “confirmed the need to ensure a non-nuclear, non-aligned status of Ukraine and its security outside the framework of NATO, as well as the Ukrainian colleagues’ understanding that the issues of Crimea and the Donbass have been permanently resolved.”

Crimea voted to rejoin Russia in 2014, after a coup in Kiev. Kiev claims the vote was illegitimate and refers to Crimea as temporarily occupied Ukrainian territory. Regarding the Donbass republics, Moscow recognized them as independent states back in February.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko, for his part, disagreed with Lavrov’s interpretation of the results of the negotiations, claiming that the Russian FM “demonstrates a misunderstanding” of the negotiating process and that “the issues of Crimea and Donbas will be settled for good after Ukraine restores its sovereignty over them.”

Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.