Negotiations Between Ukraine And Russia Stall As Mariupol’s Martyrdom Continues

The peace talks between Ukraine and Russia have continued this Monday via telematics without materializing any of the agreements that the two parties said days ago to see close. Both sides accuse each other of torpedoing the negotiations. While the Kremlin claims that it is making “colossal” efforts to reach an agreement, something they do not see from kyiv, Ukraine highlights that there are significant “gaps” between its positions and accuses Russia of trying to justify its attacks with ” lies”.

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The negotiations take place in parallel to the Russian offensive and after defeating the ultimatum given by Russia to Mariupol to surrender as a condition to evacuate the besieged city, where some 400,000 people have been trapped for weeks in the middle of the bombing without electricity, heating, water and with food and medicine shortages

Both delegations held a new 90-minute video call this Monday to find a way out of the conflict, as reported by David Arhamia, the Ukrainian negotiator.

Arhamia, in statements collected by the Ukrainian media and quoted by Reuters, has assured that the talks would continue throughout the day in the different working groups that were created to address specific issues.

Previously, the spokesman for the Russian Presidency, Dmitri Peskov, had said that the progress in the negotiations was still not enough to facilitate a meeting between Putin and Zelensky.

The degree of progress in the negotiations is neither what is desired nor what is required by the situation

Dimitri Peskov
Kremlin spokesman

Peskov has defended that the Russian negotiators are ready to work 24 hours a day and has accused the kyiv delegation of not doing the same. “The degree of progress in the negotiations is not what is desired or what the situation requires (…) Our delegation is making a colossal effort,” Peskov told reporters. “I repeat, our delegation is ready to work 24 hours a day and has shown it, but unfortunately we do not see such a willingness on the part of Ukraine,” he said.

Ukraine, for its part, repeats that it is willing to negotiate to end the war, but that it will not surrender or accept Russian ultimatums such as the tax on Mariupol.

Zelensky’s presidential adviser, Mikhailo Podoliak, has accused Russia of “persistently trying to justify” the “massive aggression against Ukraine” through “stories about bio-laboratories, Nazi battalions and heavy artillery shelling Donetsk. This is all an absolute lie”, he has written on Twitter.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts continue to help channel an agreement. Turkey, which is trying to mediate in the conflict, has stated that Moscow and kyiv are “almost in agreement” on four of the six points raised at the negotiating table. This was stated this Sunday by the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Çavusoglu, who did not specify in what matters progress had been made.

In the same vein, the Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Benet, who is also trying to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, has declared that there are “progress” in their negotiations, although he has acknowledged that they are still far from reaching a ceasefire.

According to the Jerusalem Postthe Israeli prime minister has assured that, as part of the progress, Russia would have given up deposing Zelensky and demilitarizing Ukraine, while the Ukrainian authorities would have promised not to join NATO.

For her part, the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has lowered expectations that the talks will come to fruition in the short term.

In an interview with CNN, The diplomat criticized that “the Russians have not leaned towards any possibility of a negotiated solution” and assured that the talks “seem unilateral”.

Referendum on key issues

Talks to try to find a way out of the conflict began on February 28, days after Putin ordered the entry of troops into Ukraine. 21 days have passed since that first meeting between the two delegations at the Belarusian border and the key issues for the two countries remain unresolved.

Russia demands the “demilitarization” of the country and the commitment that Ukraine does not join NATO, making it a condition that it accept a status of neutrality. It also demands the “denazification” of the country, another of the main arguments used to justify the invasion of Ukraine: Russia insists on the false claims that Ukraine is a “neo-Nazi” country where “it seems that there is a genocide” (something they maintain without evidence) against the Russian-speaking population.

They also ask that Crimea be recognized as Russian and that a referendum be held in Donbas. Peskov has gone so far as to assure that if Ukraine accepts these conditions “it could quickly stop what is happening.”

I explained this to all the negotiating groups: when all these changes are discussed, and they may be historic, we are not going to make a decision without first having a referendum.

Volodymyr Zelensky
president of ukraine

For its part, Ukraine insists that it is seeking, in addition to the ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops, “security guarantees” that serve to defend the country in the event of a new attack, for which they want the express involvement of several powers in the agreement.

Ukraine has repeatedly said that it will not accept any changes to its borders, which would imply giving in to Crimea and Donbas on the terms demanded by Russia.

In an interview with CNNthe Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, affirmed this Sunday that he will not assume “any commitment that affects the territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Ukraine.

In addition, Zelenski has assured this Monday that he will submit a possible peace agreement to a referendum throughout Ukraine. In an interview with European media, he stated that the consultation would include any agreement reached on the security guarantees required by Ukraine and the status of the territories controlled by Russia, according to a preview published on the Telegram channel of the Ukrainian broadcaster Suspilne.

“I explained this to all the negotiating groups: when you talk about all these changes, and they can be historic, we are not going to make a decision without first having a referendum,” Zelensky said.

“People will have to decide on certain compromises (…) I am ready to make any move if it is done with our people,” added Zelensky, according to the Ukrainian agency Ukrinform.

Mariúpol, horror without witnesses

Meanwhile, Mariupol remains one of the cities hardest hit by the war. This Monday, Russia gave an ultimatum for the Ukrainian army to lay down its arms in the city in exchange for opening humanitarian corridors.

Ukraine rejected the surrender and the bombardments have continued to hit the port city, which has been besieged for weeks, without water, without electricity, without heating, and with a shortage of food and medicine while the corpses accumulate in the streets. Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of the failure of the humanitarian corridors and the Ukrainian Parliament has denounced the bombing of buses trying to evacuate children in Mariupol, in which at least four children died.

Zelensky has insisted on Monday that they will not accept ultimatums like the one raised in Mariupol, since accepting it would require the “annihilation” of the Ukrainian people. “Ukraine cannot meet the ultimatum. We won’t be able to do it. They would have to eliminate us all and then their ultimatum will be fulfilled automatically, ”he assures in the advance of the interview with collected European media by Ukrinform.

“’We have an ultimatum, here are the points: take it and we will end the war’: this is wrong, it does not lead to anything, to any result”, Zelensky said in the interview about the Russian position in the negotiation.

In Mariupol there are no longer any international witnesses who can document what is happening. The Red Cross has denounced this Monday that it still does not have access to the city. Mstyslav Chernov and Evgeniy Maloletka, the last remaining AP photojournalists in Mariupol, have recounted how they managed to escape pursuing Russian troops while trying to recount the horrors suffered by thousands of civilians caught between the bombs.

Day 26 of the invasion of Ukraine:



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