Russia and Ukraine are nearing agreement on key peace issues, Turkey says

Russia and Ukraine have “almost reached an agreement” on four critical points of a potential peace deal, Turkey’s foreign minister said, while fierce fighting continued to ravage the key port city of Mariupol.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkey’s pro-government newspaper Hurriyet that after intense diplomacy over the past week there has been growing “convergence” between Moscow and Kyiv.

“On important issues, critical issues, there is a convergence between the two sides,” Cavusoglu said. “Especially with the first four points, we can see that an agreement has almost been reached.”

A possible deal would require Russia to declare a ceasefire and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory to the positions they were in when President Vladimir Putin launched a full-blown invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Some points need to be agreed between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Cavusoglu said, adding that the two leaders did not seem to have a “negative attitude” to the idea in principle.

But Ukraine and its Western allies are skeptical of Russia’s motives for brokering a deal and fear Putin may buy time to increase Moscow’s forces and launch a new offensive.

Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Zelensky said the talks were worth pursuing even if they had a “1 percent chance of success,” and warned that failure of the negotiations would risk “a third world war.”

“Russian forces have come to exterminate us, to kill us. We have demonstrated the dignity of our people and our army, that we are capable of striking back,” he said. “But unfortunately, our dignity will not save a life. So I think we have to use every format, every opportunity to have the opportunity to negotiate.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the United Nations, accused Russia of not fully participating in the talks. “The negotiations appear to be one-sided,” she said. “The Russians have not agreed to a negotiated and diplomatic solution.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyi, said Russia has deployed “more destructive artillery”, including its new Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, against civilian areas.

Podolyak’s statement was the first confirmation from Ukraine that the Kremlin had used the missiles in combat for the first time this week.

Moscow claims it has used the Kinzhal, which Russia says can travel at 10 times the speed of sound, twice in the past three days to destroy a fuel depot near Mykolayiv, a key city on the front lines in southern Ukraine and to reach a target ammunition depot in the west of the country.

Turkey, which is mediating alongside Israel in the talks, said Ukraine and Russia had made significant progress in declaring Kiev’s neutrality and abandoning their quest for NATO membership, “demilitarizing” Ukraine in exchange for collective security guarantees Calling Russia “denazification” and lifting restrictions on the use of Russian in Ukraine.

Even as negotiations progressed, Russian forces continued their intensity Attack on Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, the status of which is a key sticking point in the talks, according to two people who have been informed.

Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Sunday that “the situation in Mariupol is difficult: there is famine in the city, street fights, people are trying to leave the city on their own.” Russian forces cut power, heat and food supplies.

Anna Romanenko, a local journalist who was evacuated from Mariupol but is still in contact with sources there, said there had been heavy fighting in the center, with Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers attacked by Ukrainian government forces in and around the prominent Theater Square became landmarks.

“The front now runs right through the city,” she said. Large parts of Mariupol, particularly the Left Bank District and some neighborhoods in the north-west of the city, are entirely in Russian hands, she said.

Russia publicly adheres to Putin’s maximalist demands in the early days of the invasion, including vaguely defined calls to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine.

Moscow also wants Kyiv to recognize its 2014 annexation of Crimea and the independence of two Russian-backed separatist areas in the eastern border region of Donbass.

as his Invasion has stalledHowever, Russia has quietly dropped its vow to depose Zelenskyy and rejected proposals to partition the country into Moscow-backed fiefdoms and a rump state.

Ukraine has ruled out making any territorial concessions to Russia under any circumstances, saying that negotiations over the territories captured by Moscow earlier this year would require separate talks between Zelenskyy and Putin.

Mariupol is a particularly difficult issue as it is part of Ukrainian territory claimed by the separatists.

Putin has justified the invasion by saying that Russia is ridding Ukraine of Nazis, even though Zelenskyy is Jewish and far-right nationalist groups have little influence in the country.

Additional reporting by Kiran Stacey in Washington Russia and Ukraine are nearing agreement on key peace issues, Turkey says

Adam Bradshaw

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