The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet in Turkey on Thursday, the highest talks between the two countries since the Russian invasion began two weeks ago. They will discuss the war as Russia ramps up its airstrikes against civilian targets, and the humanitarian situation in many Ukrainian cities worsens.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that he hopes the meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, will “open the door to a permanent ceasefire.”
It seems that both Russia and Ukraine have softened their stance in recent days, Raising hopes that a ceasefire might be possible.
The Kremlin has scaled back its demands to focus on Ukraine’s “neutrality” and the status of the occupied territories, signaling that President Vladimir Putin is no longer bent on regime change in Kyiv.
On the Ukrainian side, President Volodymyr Zelensky has indicated that he is open to reviewing his country’s constitutionally enshrined ambition to join NATO, and even to compromise on the status of Ukraine’s territory now controlled by Russia.
Mr. Zelensky said on Wednesday that he expected Putin to eventually stop hostilities and enter negotiations after watching his forces meet fierce resistance in Ukraine. An estimated five to six thousand Russian soldiers were killed during the two-week invasion, a US official said on Wednesday, a sharp increase from an estimate a few days ago of 3,000.
“I think he sees us as strong,” Mr. Zelensky Deputy News said during an interview in Kyiv. “He will. We need some time.”
The talks are being held on Thursday in the Turkish city of Antalya, in the coastal region that has been for many years Popular Destinations for Russian tourists.
Turkey is a more neutral site than Belarus, where the first three rounds of talks held. Mr Erdogan He stopped short of imposing sanctions on Russia for the invasion, but his NATO member country has supplied Ukraine with deadly armed drones.
However, Russian and Ukrainian demands remain far apart.
Kremlin He said this week It will stop military operations if Kyiv wants to enshrine the status of neutrality in its constitution and recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea and the independence of two Russian-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. That is still far from what Mr. Zelensky said he was willing to accept. Russia’s position could also taint Mr. Putin’s image at home, exposing him to criticism that he launched a costly war for limited gain.
Even if Russia and Ukraine agreed to a ceasefire, it would not necessarily mean the end of the war. Analysts warn that both sides could use it to build strength before further escalation.
Mr. Kuleba said on Wednesday that his expectations for talks in Turkey are low.
While Mr. Kuleba meets Mr. Lavrov, Vice President Kamala Harris will meet in Warsaw on Thursday with President Andrzej Duda and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a NATO ally on Ukraine’s western border. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is visiting Poland this week, will also be present.
The United States and its NATO allies are trying to find ways to help Ukraine defend itself without being drawn into a wider war against Russia. In a sign of how difficult it is, The United States and Poland openly disagreed This week due to proposals to send fighter planes from the Soviet era to the country.
General Todd Walters, head of the US European Command, He said in a statement Early Thursday he said the US “has no plans to facilitate an indirect or third-party transfer of the Polish aircraft” to Ukraine.
General Walters said that providing Ukraine with more air defense systems and anti-tank weapons is the most effective way to support the country’s army, and Ukraine’s air defenses have limited the effectiveness of Russia’s large air capabilities.
He added that the transfer of combat aircraft from Poland to Ukraine “will not significantly increase the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Air Force.” It could also be “false as escalatory and could lead to a Russian escalation with NATO.”
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