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Russia says it will scale back Kiev offensive to boost confidence for future peace talks – POLITICO

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Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin called Tuesday that Moscow would drastically scale back its military offensive around Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, while the two sides met in Turkey for talks.

“The decision was made to fundamentally limit military activity towards Kyiv and Chernihiv,” Fomin told reporters as the Russian delegation, including Moscow’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky, exited the latest round of peace talks with Ukraine in Istanbul.

This would “enhance mutual trust for future negotiations” to “agree and sign a peace deal with Ukraine,” he added.

The Ukrainian and Russian delegations met for their first face-to-face round of talks in three weeks on Tuesday, where they were personally welcomed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Medinsky said the talks had been “constructive” and that the Russian delegation had received written proposals from the Ukrainian side “reaffirming their desire for a neutral and non-nuclear status.”

These include a ban on Ukraine stationing foreign military bases and troops, as well as on the production of weapons of mass destruction, the former Russian culture minister said, adding that these proposals would be considered immediately.

“For my part, I can say that we are taking two equally steps to de-escalate the conflict,” Medinsky said, adding that both sides are also considering the possibility of a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin to sign a final agreement meeting would have raised consent.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said Ukraine had offered to adopt neutral status, meaning it would not join military alliances like NATO, which was a key Moscow demand.

In return, podolyak tweetedthe country needs NATO-style security guarantees, protected by “guarantee states” such as the US, UK, Turkey, France and Germany, which would be “legally active in protecting Ukraine from any aggression.”

During a press conference, Podolyak explained how the proposals would be put into practice from the Ukrainian perspective: first, any agreement would be subject to a popular referendum, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy outlined on Sunday evening; then it would have to be ratified by the parliaments of the guarantor states and Ukraine.

Ukraine also proposed a 15-year consultation period on the status of the annexed Crimean Peninsula, during which the issue would be settled solely through bilateral negotiations with Russia.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said the talks ended on Tuesday, although they were originally scheduled to last until Wednesday.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has largely stalled more than a month after Moscow launched a full-scale attack on its neighbor, even though the war has claimed thousands of civilian casualties amid a deadly barrage from air forces and forced nearly 4 million people to flee the country driven Ukraine.

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