A fresh round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations could kick off in Turkey as soon as Tuesday, the Kremlin said, adding that negotiations had yielded few breakthroughs.
David Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, confirmed that talks were expected to restart in Istanbul on Tuesday morning.
“While we cannot and will not speak about progress at the talks, the fact that they are continuing to take place in person is important, of course,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday agreed that Istanbul would host peace talks this week.
Putin’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists on Monday that the Russian and Ukrainian delegations could potentially reach an agreement at the talks, as Moscow believed Nato had heard some of its security concerns, the state Tass news agency reported.
“So I still see that there is a chance for an agreement, because there is an understanding of our western partners’ gross mistakes of many years, it is present now, although for understandable reasons they will hardly say it out loud,” Lavrov said.
“We have an interest in these talks having a successful outcome, a result that will meet our key aims,” Lavrov said.
However he also listed points that Moscow plans to raise, such as Ukraine’s demilitarisation and “denazification”, that have previously thwarted progress.
“When we negotiate with the Ukrainian side now . . . we are obliged to make sure Ukraine stops settling down with the west and with Nato militarily,” Lavrov said. “That Ukraine stops being a country that is constantly militarised.”
Putin could meet his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in future, Lavrov added, but only once progress had been made on Russia’s key aims, as a meeting simply to exchange views right now would be “counterproductive”.
Zelensky had said ahead of the peace talks that Ukraine was ready to declare neutrality, abandon its attempt to join Nato and agree not to develop nuclear weapons if Russia withdraws troops and Kyiv receives security guarantees.