Ukraine-Russia talks in Turkey conclude with Moscow pledge to wind-down Kyiv assault

Ukraine-Russia talks in Turkey conclude with Moscow pledge to wind-down Kyiv assault
Turkey has been hosting talks between Ukraine and Russia in an effort to find peace.
3 min read
29 March, 2022
Erdogan hosted the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul on Tuesday [Getty]

Peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiating teams, held in Istanbul on Tuesday, will not continue for a second day, the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Russia pledged to drastically scale back its military activity around Kyiv and Chernihiv in Ukraine, one of its deputy defence ministers said earlier. 

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu concluded that Tuesday's talks marked the "most significant progress" since war broke out between the two countries.

Russia will "radically" reduce its military activity in northern Ukraine, including near the capital Kyiv, after "meaningful" talks in Istanbul, Moscow's negotiators said Tuesday.

Chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said there had been a "meaningful discussion" at the talks and that Ukrainian proposals would be put to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He also said that Vladimir Putin could meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine has proposed adopting neutral status in the most detailed formula yet for a potential settlement to the five-week conflict.

Washington has said it has not seen "signs of real seriousness" from Russia in pursuing peace after its invasion of Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

Blinken said it was up to Ukraine to characterise whether there was real progress in the talks, but added the United States was focused on Russia's actions, not its words.

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"What Russia is doing is the continued brutalisation of Ukraine and its people, and that continues as we speak," Blinken told reporters during a visit to Morocco, calling on Moscow to end its aggression now and pull its forces back.

Russia calls its mission a "special operation" to disarm and "denazify" Ukraine. The West says it launched an unprovoked invasion.

Washington was willing to pursue an outcome to the talks that involved US support for Ukraine's "defense and security," Blinken added.

"I have not seen anything that suggests that this is moving forward in an effective way... At least we’ve not seen signs of real seriousness, but if Ukraine concludes that there is, that's good and we support that," Blinken said. 

The leaders of the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy on Tuesday urged the West not to drop its guard against Russia, after Moscow signalled it would scale down fighting around two Ukrainian cities.

"They agreed there could be no relaxation of Western resolve until the horror inflicted on Ukraine is over," they said, according to a read-out from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street office.

Johnson echoed the scepticism of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. "The prime minister underscored that we must judge Putin's regime by their actions not their words," he said.

"Putin is twisting the knife in the open wound of Ukraine in an attempt to force the country and its allies to capitulate.

"The prime minister stressed to his fellow leaders that we should be unrelenting in our response."

Reuters contributed to this story