More than a month after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, talks appear to have escalated with the aim of stopping the fighting. This has so far focused on Ukraine’s relations with NATO and the status of Crimea and the Donbas.
After the latest round of talks, Russia’s Foreign Minister lauded the “significant progress” and “positive moves” he believes have been made.
But others suggest his views on Ukraine’s position are divorced from the truth.
Lavrov told reporters that Kyiv understood “the Crimea and Donbas problems were solved once and for all”.
Ukraine has said it will not back down in this contested territory, insisting its territorial integrity is a red line.
Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added that Lavrov had caught the wrong end of the stick.
He wrote: “Lavrov shows a misunderstanding of the negotiation process.
“The Crimea and Donbas issues will be resolved once and for all after Ukraine restores its sovereignty over them.
“During the talks in Istanbul, the Ukrainian delegation presented its proposals on how to achieve this goal.”
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However, there appears to be more progress on the question of Ukraine’s relations with NATO.
Lavrov told reporters Ukraine had “recognized the need” to give up membership of the Western alliance.
This point is also not as clear as the Russian Foreign Minister suggested, given that Ukraine has stressed it seeks security guarantees “stronger than NATO”.
Reports suggest Kyiv will only be willing to admit key demands if some Western countries commit to come to its aid in the event of an attack.
It wants these countries – labeled as “unconditional guarantors” – to defend it within three days, while the NATO support mechanism has no deadline for action.
This comes after the Kremlin announced it would halt some of its military operations around Kyiv to increase the chances of success in future peace talks.
Leaders in the West argue this is an act of necessity, not choice.