MOSCOW/KYIV, March 17 — Following a new round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow is prepared to continue high-level trilateral negotiations with Ukraine mediated by Turkey.
“If such initiatives appear, we would only be happy to continue communicating in this format,” Lavrov said at a press conference following his talks with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Moscow.
He explained that Moscow would only be interested in talks with Ukraine if these would lead to concrete results and solve existing problems.
According to Cavusoglu, Turkey is ready to host a potential meeting between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine.
Lavrov met with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya last week on the sidelines of an international forum.
This was the first high-level meeting between Moscow and Kyiv since Russia launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Earlier Wednesday, Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky said Russia and Ukraine have achieved some progress on a number of issues during the new round of talks.
“Some progress has been achieved on a number of positions, but not all. The positions of the parties are quite clear, we are moving slowly,” local media reported, citing Medinsky, who is also the head of Moscow’s delegation.
“The preservation and development of Ukraine’s neutral status, Ukraine’s demilitarization along with a whole range of issues related to the size of the Ukrainian army are being discussed,” Medinsky said, adding that the Ukrainian side had proposed a Swedish or Austrian example of a neutral demilitarized state.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict continues on Thursday as relevant parties are working to broker a peaceful solution.
For South Africa’s Deputy President David Mabuza, diplomacy remains “the key tool” to end the Ukraine-Russia conflict and no amount of condemnation and side-taking will resolve this problem.
South Africa continues to call for the parties to work together towards building trust and confidence by “intensifying existing peace mechanisms and dialogue” in order to achieve long-lasting solutions to the conflict, he said.
Qin Gang, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, said in an opinion piece published Tuesday in The Washington Post that China did not know in advance about Russia’s plan for a military operation against Ukraine, nor did Beijing support it.
“On Ukraine, China’s position is objective and impartial,” the ambassador said. “The purposes and principles of the UN Charter must be fully observed; the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, including Ukraine, must be respected; the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be taken seriously; all efforts that are conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be supported.”
In another development, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday in Brussels that the organization is working on resetting its deterrence and defense in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“We face a new reality for our security. So we must reset our collective defense and deterrence for the longer term,” said Stoltenberg following the extraordinary meeting of NATO ministers of defense, of which defense ministers from Ukraine, Georgia, Finland, and Sweden also participated.
NATO’s military commanders have been tasked with developing options on land, in air, at sea, in cyberspace, and in space, according to Stoltenberg.
The process for the reset started with a political decision, which is now followed by a consultation of the military commanders, who should issue their advice within weeks, said Stoltenberg, adding that leaders of NATO member states will make a decision by June. (Xinhua)