A peace talk between Ukraine and Russia, mediated by Turkey, was the first talk that involved a Russian minister.
Despite this development, the talks did not yield positive results.
Here’s what happened.
Foreign Ministers Met in Turkey, But Not With High Hopes
Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, met with Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in Antalya, Turkey.
NATO member Turkey had offered to mediate between the two sides, after three rounds of talks in Belarus and Ukraine had little impact.
Before the meeting, Kuleba had urged Lavrov to approach the talks in good faith, but “not from a propagandistic perspective”.
Kuleba also honestly said that his expectations for the talks are low, but outlined the three main objectives he wishes to achieve: a ceasefire, liberating Ukrainian territories, and resolving all humanitarian issues.
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Moscow, the capital of Russia, also said they were ready for talks with Ukraine. However, their conditions to end the assaults included demands that Kyiv adopts a neutral position to both Russia and the West.
They also demanded that Ukraine will never get NATO membership. Which, BTW, Ukrainian president Zelenskyy has said he’ll stop pressing for. So that’s one out of many conditions met.
Why Hold Talks in Turkey?
Turkey shares a border in the Balck Sea with both Russia and Ukraine, and has a good relationship with both countries.
Both Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers had also requested for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to attend the talks.
It makes sense to hold talks in neutral and friendly territory, especially since the last three talks were held in Russia-allied Belarus and Ukraine itself.
Talks on Ceasefire and Humanitarian Issues Didn’t Yield Results
After the meeting, Kuleba told reporters that no progress was made on decisions regarding a 24-hour ceasefire.
Referring to the Russian Kremlin, Kuleba said that there are other decision-makers for a ceasefire in Russia, instead of just Lavrov.
Kuleba also said that Lavrov was not in a position to commit to a humanitarian corridor for the city of Mariupol, which has been under siege. Lavrov will have to correspond with the relevant authorities on the Russian side on these issues.
Ukraine Reaffirms Desire for Diplomacy, But Will Not Surrender
Describing the meeting as a difficult one Kuleba further accused Lavrov of bringing “traditional narratives” about Ukraine to the negotiation table.
However, he reaffirmed Ukraine’s desire for diplomacy, saying that he is ready to meet with Lavrov for more talks if there are fruitful discussions and solutions reached.
Despite their desire for diplomacy, Ukraine isn’t just going to sit there and let Russian forces steamroll through them. Kuleba vowed that Ukraine “has not surrendered, does not surrender, and will not surrender”.
“We are ready for diplomacy, we seek diplomatic decisions but as long as there are none, we go with dedication, sacrificing ourselves, to defend our lands, our people, in the face of Russian aggression.”
Lavrov Accused West of “Dangerously” Supplying Weapons to Ukraine
Lavrov said that the West is trying to utilise Ukraine to undermine Russia.
He also accused the European Union and other Western countries, of “dangerously” supplying arms to Ukraine. Lavrov stated that these countries are acting “in violation of all its so-called principles and values”.
Of course, there’s nothing Russia would like more than a defenceless Ukraine that they can easily conquer. But saying that supplying arms to Ukraine is “dangerous”… That’s just a pot calling the kettle black, given how thousands of Russian troops are currently on the offensive.
Ukraine as a Pro-West Tool, Doesn’t Believe Nuclear War Will Start
Lavrov stated that Moscow wants a friendly, demilitarised Ukraine that poses no threat to Moscow and Russian culture.
This is due to Russia’s perspective that Ukraine was “turning into anti-Russian”, and that Ukraine is turning into a tool for the West.
He also said that he “don’t want to believe” and do not believe that a nuclear war will start, even as Russia stands off with the West over Ukraine.
Well, the Russians not wanting nuclear war either is a silver lining in this crisis.
Rumours about a Russian attack against former Soviet Baltic states are also apparently untrue, and there won’t be any Soviet-era expansionism happening.
Russia Won’t Ever Rely on the West
As for Russia’s economic problems, Lavrov said that they will cope with them, just like how they’ve coped with difficulties throughout history.
Lavrov also said that they do not believe the West can be a reliable partner and will do everything to not rely on the West in any aspect. He also labelled the West as betrayers, saying that they’ll “betray whoever, and will betray its own values”.
From what Russia is saying, all they want is to protect themselves and for the West to back off.
Oh, and Lavrov added that Russia will emerge from this crisis “with a better psychology and conscience”.
This really makes us wonder what conscience he’s talking about since Russian forces bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol recently. But Lavrov insisted that the building was no longer used as a hospital and has been occupied by Ukrainian forces during the bombing when responding to Kyiv’s condemnation.
Well, Lavrov must not have been paying attention in meetings, as the Kremlin separately stated that the incident is being investigated.
The Fastest Humanitarian Crisis in Europe Since WW2
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has displaced more than 2 million people, and the United Nations is calling it the fastest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War Two.
Even though talks between Kyiv and Moscow had resulted in some local ceasefires and humanitarian corridors, Russia has been accused of breaching these agreements.
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China Finally Calls This A War, Hopes For War To End
In other international developments regarding the war, China is finally calling this situation a war.
State-owned broadcaster CCTV quoted their Foreign Minister Yang Yi saying that China hopes to see the war stop as soon as possible.
He had also called on all sides to calm down, and for more actions to prevent escalation of the fighting in Ukraine.
This is still far from condemning Russia’s actions, but it is still a big step from their initial neutral stance.
US, Britain, Canada and IMF Continues Supporting Ukraine
The US has warned that Russia might be preparing to use chemical or biological weapons against Ukraine. However, the US has rejected Russian allegations that they’re involved in bioweapons research in Ukraine.
Washington has increased defences in neighbouring Poland, sending two new surface-to-air missile batteries.
The US House of Representatives has also approved a US$14 billion spending package for Ukraine and Eastern European allies and is awaiting approval from the Senate.
Meanwhile, Britain is preparing to send more portable missile systems. Canada is also planning to send an additional US$50 million worth of military equipment to Ukraine.
The International Monetary Fund is also supporting Ukraine, approving a US$1.4 billion emergency package for Kyiv, providing critical financial support to them. On the flip side of the coin, many nations, including Singapore, are currently trying to pressure Russia with sanctions.
Russia May Be Changing Their Stance
Although the talks yielded no positive results, bringing the two foreign ministers together already marks a step forward. Russia’s willingness to send their foreign minister this time round could bring diplomacy to higher levels.
Hopefully, Russia’s stance will change to be more open to negotiation.
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