Ukraine’s top negotiator in peace talks with Russia said on Saturday that Moscow had “verbally” agreed to key Ukrainian proposals, raising hopes that talks to end the fighting are progressing.
Negotiator David Arakhamia told Ukrainian television channels that any meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin would “with high probability” take place in Turkey.
“The Russian Federation has issued an official response to all positions, namely that they accept the (Ukrainian) position, except for the issue of Crimea (which was annexed by Russia in 2014),” Arakhamia said.
He said that although there was “no official written confirmation”, the Russian side said this “orally”.
The comments came as Ukraine said it had recaptured control of the entire Kiev region.
Arakhamia said Moscow had agreed in talks that a referendum on Ukraine’s neutral status “will be the only way out of this situation”.
Asked what would happen if Ukrainians voted against neutral status for the country, Arakhamia said, “We will either return to a state of war, perhaps, or return to new negotiations.”
The Kremlin has urged Ukraine to adopt neutral status.
Arakhamia said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “called us and Vladimir Putin” Friday and said he would organize the meeting.
“Neither the date nor the place is known, but we think the place will most likely be Ankara or Istanbul,” he said.
Turkey, which has good relations with both Russia and Ukraine, has tried to mediate in the conflict.
Since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, Zelensky has repeatedly called for face-to-face talks with the Kremlin chief.
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