Russia and Ukraine hold peace talks in Turkey

Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine were held in Istanbul on Tuesday March 29, with Russia promising to reduce its military operations around kyiv and northern Ukraine.

The talks, hosted by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at a palace in Istanbul, came as Russia’s invasion was halted on most fronts by strong resistance, with the Ukrainians retaking territory in counterattacks , even as civilians are trapped in besieged cities.

The talks were the first face-to-face meeting between the parties since March 10.

Ukraine offered to adopt a neutral status but with international guarantees that it would be protected from attack.

The proposals would include a 15-year consultation period on the status of Crimea annexed to Russia and could only come into effect if there was a full ceasefire, negotiators said.

Chief Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said he would review Ukrainian proposals and report back to President Vladimir Putin. Ukrainian negotiators have called for a meeting between Putin and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

During the talks, an adviser to Zelenskiy, Mykhailo Podolyak, said security guarantees and terms of a ceasefire to address humanitarian issues were being discussed.

Billionaire Roman Abramovich, one of the Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the West for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, was seen attending the peace talks.

A presidential television feed showed Abramovich sitting next to Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and listening to President Erdogan‘s speech to Russian and Ukrainian delegates.

The Kremlin dismissed reports that Abramovich had been poisoned, saying they were false and part of an “information war”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Abramovich was not an official member of the Russian delegation at the talks with Ukraine in Turkey, but was present there.

As talks were held in Istanbul, Russia’s defense minister said Ukraine’s military capability had been seriously degraded.

Sergei Shoigu, addressing officials in a televised meeting, also reiterated that the main tasks of the first phase of the Russian military operation in Ukraine have been completed.

Military convoys bearing ‘Z’ markings were seen on a road leading to the besieged port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said on Monday (March 28) that 160,000 civilians were still trapped in the city on the Sea of ​​Azov without heat or electricity after weeks of Russian bombardment.

In the southern city of Mykolaiv, a missile ripped through the main administrative building. Authorities said at least seven people were killed and 20 injured, including 18 pulled from the rubble by rescuers.

Russia, which sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24, denies targeting civilians and accuses Ukraine of repeatedly failing to agree on safe corridors for trapped civilians .

Russian forces attacked ports in southern Ukraine, including Kherson, Odessa, Mykolaiv and Mariupol, as they attempted to cut Ukraine off from the Black Sea and establish a land corridor between Russia and Crimea , the peninsula that Russia captured in 2014.

In an impassioned appeal to the Danish parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Europe it must toughen sanctions against Russia, including blocking trade, stopping oil purchases and closing ports to ships Russians.

More than a month after the start of the war, the largest attack on a European nation since World War II, more than 3.9 million people have fled abroad, thousands have been killed and injured and l Russian economy has been hit by sanctions.

Some Ukrainian refugees decided to return home to their country where they left their loved ones behind.

A mother-of-two, Yuliya Kuzyk from Kalush, western Ukraine, traveled by bus from Warsaw with the aim of returning home to family and friends.

She was one of many people who asked to return despite the uncertainty surrounding the end of the fighting.

(Reuters)

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