Ukraine showing ‘more understanding’ of Crimea & Donbass issues – Russia
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that Ukraine has come closer to Moscow's position on Crimea and the Donbass republics, as peace talks continue.
Earlier this week another round of face-to-face negotiations took place in Turkey and, since then, there has been contact by remote video link between the two sides.
“There is progress, foremost in terms of recognition of the impossibility of Ukraine becoming a member of a bloc, the impossibility of Ukraine [joining] NATO,” Lavrov told reporters during his trip to New Delhi, India.
“We’ve also seen a lot more understanding of reality. I’m referring to the situation with Crimea and the Donbass.”
Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia shortly after the 2014 Maidan coup in Kiev. The Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk broke away from Ukraine the same year, with tacit Russian support.
During peace talks in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday, the Ukrainian team proposed holding separate negotiations on the status of Crimea over the course of 15 years. However, they refused to recognize the peninsula as part of Russia, or to recognize the two Donbass republics as independent states.
The Kremlin previously stated that Crimea’s return to Ukraine is impossible. According to amendments adopted in 2020, the Russian Constitution bans the surrender of Russian territory, with the exception of minor border adjustments.
Moscow attacked the neighboring state 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 Minsk Protocol was designed to regularize the status of the regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO, a US-led military bloc. Kiev says the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.