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Russia Welcomes Ukraine’s Written Proposals But Says No Breakthroughs

Above Photo: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a joint news conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow, Russia February 18, 2022. Sputnik / Sergey Guneev / Kremlin / REUTERS.

Ukraine wants security guarantees from the US and other Western countries, which is likely a non-starter for Russia.

On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia welcomed Ukraine’s written proposals on a potential peace deal but cautioned that there is still a long way to go to end the fighting.

Peskov said that he hasn’t seen anything too promising and that there are no signs of a breakthrough between the two sides. Ukraine put forward its proposal during talks in Turkey on Tuesday.

The Ukrainian proposal includes a pledge not to join NATO, but Kyiv wants security guarantees similar to NATO’s Article 5, which outlines the alliance’s mutual defense agreement. Ukraine wants these guarantees from several NATO countries, including the US, which is likely a non-starter for Russia.

Still, Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s leading negotiator, offered a more positive view of Ukraine’s proposal. “Yesterday, for the first time, the Ukrainian party announced, not only orally but also in written form, that it’s ready to fulfill a number of the most important conditions for building normal, and, hopefully, good-neighborly relations with Russia in the future,” he said.

The Russian negotiator said the conditions include Ukraine’s pledge not to join NATO, and not to develop nuclear weapons. He said Ukraine also agreed to an obligation that it could not conduct military exercises without the consent of its security guarantors, which Medinsky said must include Russia.

After Tuesday’s talks, Russia’s military said it was “drastically” reducing military operations near Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv. Ukrainian officials said Russia was still attacking the two cities on Wednesday, but other officials said Russian troops were repositioning.

Ukrainian Presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said Russian troops were moving away from Kyiv for the second day in a row but added that he hadn’t seen a significant withdrawal from Chernihiv. “They have been really leaving Kyiv region this day, even for the second day in a row, in fact,” he said.

Russia’s military said Russian troops near Kyiv and Chernihiv are “regrouping” as Moscow is focusing on the eastern Donbas region. Last week, Russia said the “first stage” of its offensive was over, and it is now focusing on “liberating” the Donbas.

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