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No cease-fire reached in Turkey talks

March 10, 2022

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said no progress on a cease-fire was made at talks with his Russian counterpart. The meeting in Turkey was the first at this level since Russia's attack on Ukraine began.

Sergey Lavrov and Dmytro Kuleba
It is the first time Lavrov and Kuleba have met since Russia invaded Ukraine last monthImage: Pool EPA/AP/Reuters/dpa/picture alliance

A face-to-face meeting in Turkey between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov failed to make progress on ending Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Kuleba said on Thursday.

It was the first time the top diplomats have met since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24.

What did Kuleba say?

In comments carried by Reuters news agency, Kuleba said at a news conference that the "broad narrative" from Lavrov was that Russia would continue its invasion until Ukraine met its demands.

"Russia is not in a position at this point to establish a cease-fire. They seek a surrender from Ukraine. This is not what they're going to get. Ukraine is strong, Ukraine is fighting," Kuleba said.

Kyiv has always rejected Moscow's calls for it to demilitarize, recognize Crimea as part of Russia and recognize two separatist regions in the Donbas regions as autonomous states, among other things.

Kuleba also said that it seemed Lavrov had a different idea than him about what foreign ministers do in such a crisis.

What did Lavrov say?

For his part, Lavrov reiterated the Kremlin's allegations that the West has caused the conflict by forcing Ukraine to choose between close ties with Moscow and integration into Western Europe.

He said the West was creating a long-lasting danger in the region and that those who supplied weapons to Ukraine should be aware of how dangerous this was.

He added that Russia had presented its proposals to Ukraine at the meeting and wants a reply. 

Lavrov said Russia wanted a "friendly, demilitarized Ukraine" without any threat to Moscow or Russian culture.

He also said President Vladimir Putin would not refuse a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss "specific" issues.

When asked about the bombing of a children's hospital in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Lavrov said Western media had not given "both sides" on this topic. 

He said there had long been no women or children at the hospital, only "armed radicals."

Earlier, other Russian officials had claimed the reports were fake.

And when questioned on the possibility that the current conflict could lead to a nuclear war, Lavrov said, "I don't want to believe, and I do not believe, that a nuclear war could start,"

Kuleba: Expectations 'limited'

Kuleba tempered expectations ahead of the meeting, saying the prospects for a cease-fire agreement were "limited" as Russia continues its bombardment, as well as siege, of major cities.

He said the success of the meeting would depend on "what instructions and directives Lavrov is under" from the Kremlin.

"I am not pinning any great hopes on them, but we will try and get the most out of" the talks, he added.

Moscow has said it is ready for talks but that all of its demands, including that Kyiv takes a neutral position and drops aspirations of joining the NATO alliance, must be met to end its assault.

Turkey as mediator

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pushed for his country to play a mediation role between the two sides.

DW Russian affairs analyst Konstantin Eggert said ahead of the talks that Turkey's mediation was an important factor, as "Turkey, and specifically Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ... belong to the very few entities in the world that Putin respects."

He said that any prospect of an agreement being reached "essentially lies with Putin."

Eggert added that chances for the talks depended on Lavrov presenting a modified set of demands differing from those made by Moscow at the start of the invasion, as Ukraine would not be prepared to accept those given its current successes in the conflict.


Ukraine: Russia struck children's hospital

tj,jsi/sms (AFP, Reuters)