Russia and Ukraine held another round of talks on 14 March, and the possibility of successfully negotiating a ceasefire is slowly increasing.
Here’s what happened in the latest talks.
Russia’s Initial Demands
Ukraine rejected Russia’s demands, like the “denazification” of Ukraine (or more accurately, the removal of the current Ukraine government).
The Russians also demanded Ukraine to recognise Crimea as a true part of Russia. (FYI, Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, which nobody has acknowledged yet. If Ukraine recognises Crimea’s annexation, it could persuade other nations to accept that too.)
Additionally, Ukraine must recognise two pro-Russian separatist Ukrainian states as independent states, and formally declare that the country will never join NATO. Seems like Zelenskyy’s word is not enough, and they want it declared in the Constitution. (If you want to know why Putin is so scared of Ukraine joining NATO, read this.)
Of course, Ukraine found these demands unacceptable. But things are looking up.
Negotiations Looking Optimistic
Mr Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of the negotiating team from Russia, stated that he saw significant progress in the negotiations.
A top Ukrainian negotiator, Mr Mykhailo Podolyak, also tweeted that negotiations are still ongoing in non-stop video conferences.
Even the United States is sounding more optimistic. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told the media in Washington that Russia has been showing signs of “willingness to have real, serious negotiations” on Ukraine.
Mr Podolyak did admit that there are a large number of issues that need to be considered, and said that progress remains “hard”. Both sides were still keen on pushing forward their own agendas, instead of compromising.
However, over the past few talks, Russian officials stopped talking about the “denazification” of Ukraine’s government. Russian media also started talking about the possibility of a meeting between the two presidents Putin and Zelenskyy.
This could signal that Russia is no longer focused on overthrowing Zelenskyy’s government.
Both Sides Not Backing Down
Despite diplomatic efforts, the two countries militaries are not backing down now.
Ukrainians don’t want to agree to a ceasefire, unless the Russians guarantee that they’ll withdraw all forces.
But Moscow says that a ceasefire should be separate from guarantees about deploying Russian troops in Ukraine in the future, which Ukraine won’t accept.
We can only wait and see which side will concede first, especially as international pressures to end the war continues to increase.
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