Fourth round of Russo-Ukraine peace talks make more headway

By bne IntelliNews March 14, 2022

A fourth round of peace talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations was held on March 14 and reportedly the two sides have moved closer together, even as military clashes escalate dramatically as the conflict moves into a more violent fourth phase of the war.  

The third round of physical meetings in locations along the Ukraine-Belarusian border broke up a week earlier with little progress. However, over the weekend the two sides continued to talk by video conference and reported that steps forward had been taken. Now Kyiv is on tenterhooks. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the European parliament that he was unable to make a planned address to the assembly due to “press affairs of state” on the same day.  

“Everyone is waiting for news. We will definitely report in the evening,” Zelenskiy said in a new video address during the day, reports AP.

The Ukrainian delegation said working groups were set up at the weekend and have been concentrating on special issues. They also said that the talks will likely continue tomorrow but that they were “working on documents.”

In the previous three rounds the Russian side arrived with documents that they were demanding the Ukrainian delegation sign. However, the Ukrainian delegation took the documents back to Kyiv for consultations.

The talk of documents suggests that there is a concrete deal the Russians are proposing and the talks are dealing with the specifics of this deal rather than general questions.

Russia is demanding Ukraine declares itself neutral, recognises Crimea as Russian territory and recognises Donetsk and Luhansk regions as autonomous. 

The negotiations involve higher-level officials from the two countries and the first held in a week. Zelenskiy has also proposed that he meet personally with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a neutral country and has suggested Israel as a possible venue.  

“Communication is being held, yet it’s hard,” Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted along with a photo of the two sides meeting by video link. Earlier, Podolyak said the negotiators would discuss “peace, ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops & security guarantees.”

Air raid alerts sounded in cities and towns all around the country overnight and cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv are under heavy bombardment. Ukrainian officials said Russian forces had also shelled several suburbs in Kyiv, which was hit by rockets at 5 am the same day.  

A town councillor for Brovary, east of Kyiv, was killed in fighting there, officials said. Shells also fell on the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, which have seen some of the worst fighting in Russia’s stalled attempt to take the capital, local officials said.  

The UN has recorded at least 596 civilian deaths since Russia’s attack on Ukraine on February 24. Local authorities in Kharkiv say more than 2,000 have been killed in that city alone in the last three weeks.

In a weekend video address the tired Zelenskiy said it was a “black day” and repeated pleas for Nato leaders to establish a no-fly zone over the country.  

“If you do not close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall on your territory. Nato territory. On the homes of citizens of Nato countries,” Zelenskiy said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned Nato off delivering more arms to Ukraine at the weekend, saying those deliveries are legitimate military targets and implied that Russia might shoot them down while still in Nato transports before they entered Ukraine’s territory. He went on to warn that the conflict in Ukraine might expand in this case.   


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