Vladimir Putin said that Ukraine wants to discuss Crimea and Donbas at the summit of the leaders of the two countries. Moscow insists on resolving this issue at the stage of drawing up a draft settlement agreement alt=”Putin announced Kyiv's desire to decide the fate of Crimea and Donbass at the summit” />
Vladimir Putin and António Guterres (from left to right)
The position of the Ukrainian authorities on the terms of the settlement changed dramatically after the talks in Istanbul on March 29, Kyiv included in the draft peace agreement the topics of Crimea and Donbass, which he would like to resolve at a bilateral summit. This was stated by President Vladimir Putin at a meeting with UN Secretary General António Guterres in Moscow.
According to the President, earlier, at a meeting in Turkey, the Ukrainian side did not link with the concept of “internationally recognized borders of Ukraine” the status of Crimea, Sevastopol and the republics of Donbass.
“They [the Ukrainian delegation] moved away from their previous intentions to put out of brackets the issues of security guarantees [status] of Crimea, Sevastopol and the republics of Donbass. They just gave up on it. And in their draft agreement on this matter, presented to us, they simply indicated in two articles that these issues should be resolved at a meeting of heads of state, — Putin said.
He stated that before the discussion on the summit, this issue should be discussed and agreed upon at an earlier stage— when drafting a settlement agreement. Otherwise, Moscow will not agree to security guarantees for Ukraine.
“It is clear to us that if we refer these issues to the level of heads of state, without first resolving them, at least within the framework of a draft agreement, they will never be resolved and will not be. In this case, we simply cannot subscribe to security guarantees without resolving the issue of a territorial nature in relation to Crimea, Sevastopol and the republics of Donbass, — said the Russian president.
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Negotiations between the delegations of Russia and Ukraine on the settlement began on February 27, several rounds passed. The meeting in Istanbul, which was held with the participation of the heads of the foreign affairs agencies of Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, was called the most successful side. It was planned that the negotiations would take place within two days, but the delegations were able to discuss all issues in one day.
The head of the Russian delegation and presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, following that meeting, said that “two huge steps towards peace” from Russia, which she agreed to after Kyiv handed over written proposals for a settlement, including, in particular, references to the neutral status of Ukraine.
Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed his desire to personally meet with Putin several times. On April 24, he stated that “from the very beginning” insisted on a meeting, because he believes that the transfer of information through intermediaries “will not give the desired result.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who participated in organizing meetings of delegations, spoke about his readiness to organize such a summit. Erdogan said he plans to hold telephone conversations with Putin and Zelensky and hopes that these calls will help “bring the process in Istanbul to the level of leaders.” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had previously said that the possibility of a meeting between Zelensky and Putin depended on “Putin saying yes.”
The Kremlin has repeatedly stated that the meeting Putin and Zelensky is possible only after the agreement of the document by the delegations of Russia and Ukraine. On April 22, Putin confirmed that the possibility of direct contact between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine depends on the results of negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian sides.
The Kremlin also stated that at the talks the Ukrainian side “shows inconsistency and is not ready to seek mutually acceptable solutions.”
What issues did the parties discuss in Istanbul
According to Moscow's assessment, “substantial progress” in Istanbul was achieved on the issue of a non-bloc and non-nuclear status of Ukraine, as well as security guarantees for it. Also, the Ukrainian side announced its understanding of the situation with Crimea and Donbass.
Kyiv invited Moscow to resolve the issue of Crimea's ownership in bilateral negotiations for 15 years, and the issue of Donbass— agreed upon at a meeting of heads of state. The ownership of these regions will not be disputed by Kyiv by military means, it was noted in the voiced proposals of Ukraine. Kyiv also announced its readiness to ensure that security guarantees do not extend to Crimea and Donbass.
Ukraine proposed making the Security Guarantee Treaty multilateral and creating the basis for a new security system in Europe. Kyiv proposed to make the countries— permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Russia, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Israel, Poland and Canada. Also, Ukraine would like Russia not to object to the country's accession to the EU.
The head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, said later that, despite the progress made, Moscow and Kyiv had not yet worked out the final agreements.
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