“Extremely difficult discussions”, “slipping negotiations”, these are the expressions that characterize the progress of talks between Russia and Ukraine to hope to reach a ceasefire agreement and possibly then end the war.
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While Russian and Ukrainian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy have announced that they will participate in the G20 in Bali on November 15 and 16, 2022, the prospects for an agreement between the two leaders are revived, despite the date still far from their joint presence at an international meeting.
So back to a litany of meetings that have for the moment only resulted, perhaps, in the holding of at least humanitarian evacuation corridors from combat zones.
February 27 — Agreement on a meeting between Russian and Ukrainian representatives on the Belarusian border
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During a discussion between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the principle of a meeting without preconditions between delegations from the two belligerent countries, along the Pripyat River, on the border between Ukraine and Belarus, was accepted.
February 28 — First round of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia
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The office of the Ukrainian president indicated that this first meeting aims to put in place the modalities of a ceasefire and the departure of Russian troops from Ukraine. No agreement was reached at the end of this first summit.
March 3 — Second round of negotiations
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During this meeting, the principle of humanitarian corridors is accepted by both parties to the conflict. Russia nevertheless demanded as conditions for the ceasefire the recognition by Ukraine of Crimea as Russian territory, the independence of the People's Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, as well as the demilitarization and "denazification" of the country.
This meeting has come to prominence lately following revelations that it is where Ukrainian dignitaries, as well as oligarch Roman Abramovich, were allegedly poisoned.
March 7 — Third round of negotiations
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No agreement was reached during this meeting. Nevertheless, the latter was considered to be of good quality by the Ukrainian negotiating team. Ukraine's chief negotiator, Mykhailo Podoliak, said afterward that he sees a change in Russian dynamics, especially in setting up humanitarian corridors.
March 10 — First meeting organized under the auspices of Turkey
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On March 10, Russian and Ukrainian Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Dmytro Kuleba met for a session of talks under the auspices of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. This meeting was the first between two high-level leaders of the two countries since the beginning of the conflict.
Ukraine hoped to achieve a 24-hour ceasefire on cities like Mariupol to allow evacuations. No agreement was reached.
March 14-17 — Fourth round of negotiations
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Initiated by video, these intermittent three-day negotiations prompted President Zelensky to say that Russian demands were becoming more realistic.
On March 16, the Financial Times revealed that a 14 to 15 point plan to end the conflict was at the heart of these negotiations. Some dignitaries like French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian have tempered expectations by saying this is only done to stretch the negotiations and put the focus as far away as possible from atrocities and renewed fighting.
March 21 — Fifth round of negotiations
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No agreement was reached during this new meeting. Zelensky called for a meeting between him and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov replied that it was too early for that and that a meeting would only take place after an agreement was reached.
March 29-30 — Attempt to resume negotiations in Antalya, Turkey
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Under the auspices of Turkey, once again, a new session was held at the end of March. Zelensky presented this meeting as a way to discuss the neutrality of Ukraine and the abandonment in the present, as in the future, of any Ukrainian desire to join NATO.
No agreement was reached.
April — May — A conflict that gets bogged down and no direct meeting between the two belligerents
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No more formal negotiations have taken place between the two warring parties since this last session in Antalya at the end of March.
Moreover, the Bucha massacre, then the escalation in Mariupol and Donbass following the refocusing of the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, seemed to mark a halt to the possibilities of constructive dialogue between the two powers.
Nevertheless, several attempts to resume discussions, initiated by third parties such as the United Nations, have taken place in the last month.
On January 11, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer traveled to Moscow for a so-called “frank” discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The first concludes that he did not feel that the second was in a perspective and a desire for peace in the short term.
On April 26, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres traveled to Moscow to plead for a resumption of negotiations despite the divergent positions on the causes of the conflict between the two countries. The UN official also pleaded the role of the UN in assisting with humanitarian evacuations.
Going the next day to Kyiv, he is caught in a Russian bombardment as a welcome in town.
On May 3, in a conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Putin affirmed that Moscow was ready to reopen negotiations with Kyiv. This assertion echoes a similar one the previous week from the Ukrainian president. Zelensky.
On May 13, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Russian counterpart reopened the communication channels between the two administrations, without any real notable progress.
On May 28, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron “insisted on an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops,” said a statement from the German chancellery. MM. Macron and Scholz "called on the Russian president for serious direct negotiations with the Ukrainian president and a diplomatic solution to the conflict."
However, direct negotiations between Ukraine and Russia remain still and still blocked since the last Turkish sessions.
The war in Ukraine just entered its 94th day this week and shows no signs of letting up or easing. More than 10 million Ukrainians have fled the conflicts and civilian casualties number in the tens of thousands.