Following a month of conflict, both Russia and Ukraine arrived in Turkey to conduct peace talks on Tuesday, where the Kiev government produced a written proposal on what it wants out of the negotiations.
In previous rounds of peace talks between the two countries, Russia proposed a list of requirements to end the conflict, including a commitment from Ukraine to establish a permanent neutrality status to the NATO military alliance.
Russia also called on Ukraine to “deNazify” its military and recognize referendums in Crimea and the two breakaway provinces governed by the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.
On Tuesday, Turkey hosted the latest round of talks between Russia and Ukraine. The written proposal for a peace treaty offered by Ukraine was well received by Moscow, with negotiator Vladimir Medinsky calling the discussion “substantive.”
Following the talks, the proposal will be forwarded to Russian President Vladimir Putin for consideration, he said.
According to Russian state media, Russia has committed to an immediate de-escalation of military activities in certain parts of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced. Moscow has pledged to “dramatically” reduce its operations in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and near the city of Chernigov.
The leader of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arakhamia, said Kiev is looking for a security guarantee similar to that of NATO’s Article 5, which stipulates that hostilities against one member state guarantees the participation of every member of NATO. Arakhamia reportedly named Russia, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Poland, Turkey, and France as possible providers of the security guarantee.
Arakhamia said that some of the countries he named had given a preliminary green light to the proposal Al Jazeera reported:
Essentially, the Ukrainians said they are willing to agree to a neutral status, which remains one of Russia’s key demands.
“We want an international mechanism of security guarantees where guarantor countries will act in a similar way to NATO’s article number five – and even more firmly,” Arakhamia said to reporters.
In Ukraine’s proposal, Kiev pledged not to join any military alliance, not host foreign military bases, or foreign troops, Medinsky said, adding that any military exercises with other countries would require prior approval from guarantors.
Kiev pledged not to seek to obtain weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, he said, adding that Ukraine wants assurances from Moscow not to object to its joining the European Union one day.
Kiev offered a 15-year moratorium on the status of Crimea, which held a referendum to be annexed by Russia in 2014. During the stipulated period, Crimea’s status would be negotiated with both Russia and Ukraine pledging not to use military force for a resolution. The proposal remains incompatible with Russia’s position on Crimea, prompting Medinsky to fire back at his Ukrainian counterpart.
In addition to the Crimea stipulation, Ukraine remains insistent on including “parts” of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions into its territory for the purpose of security guarantees, Medinsky stated. Russia has officially recognized the autonomy of both regions and holds them as sovereign states.
The Ukrainians did not state whether they will give up their territorial claim to both regions. Prior to the conflict, Ukraine held a substantial portion of both regions, this is no longer the case. Kiev remains insistent that it holds sovereignty over the entire territory that Ukraine had in its 1991 map following its declaration of independence from the USSR.
Arakhamia said a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was possible before reaching a final agreement, adding that there needs to be peace across Ukraine before it takes place.