Russia-Ukraine talks offer roadmap to a truce — but one that passes through a minefield

(CNN)When the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers met in Turkey just 19 days ago, the atmosphere was toxic — and neither side got far beyond restating existing positions. Today, at a meeting in Istanbul between Russian and Ukrainian teams, the atmospherics were a great deal more positive and the outlines, however faint, of an overall settlement to this horrendously destructive war began to come into focus.They included the future of Crimea and the Donbas region, Ukraine’s neutral status, protected by security guarantees, a notable pull-back of Russian forces currently north of Kyiv and even the prospect of a meeting between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Ukrainian side accepted kicking into the long grass the status of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, said of the future of Crimea, whose annexation has never been accepted by either Ukraine or other Western countries: “It was agreed in bilateral format to take a pause for 15 years and conduct bilateral talks on the status of these territories. “Separately we discussed that during the 15 years while the bilateral talks take place there will be no military hostilities,” he told reporters.

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian forces order a man to the ground on February 28 as they increased security measures amid Russian attacks in Kyiv.Hide Caption 99 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA displaced Ukrainian cradles her child at a temporary shelter set up inside a gymnasium in Beregsurány, Hungary, on February 28.Hide Caption 100 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineRussian infantry mobility vehicles are destroyed after fighting in Kharkiv on February 28. A residential neighborhood in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was hit by a rocket attack, according to Ukrainian officials and multiple social media videos geolocated by CNN. A civilian was killed and 31 people were wounded, the city’s council said. Hide Caption 101 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineThe lifeless body of a 6-year-old girl, who according to the Associated Press was killed by Russian shelling in a residential area, lies on a medical cart at a hospital in Mariupol on February 27. The girl, whose name was not immediately known, was rushed to the hospital but could not be saved.Hide Caption 102 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineSmoke billows over the Ukrainian city of Vasylkiv, just outside Kyiv on February 27. A fire at an oil storage area was seen raging at the Vasylkiv Air Base.Hide Caption 103 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople wait on a platform inside the railway station in Lviv on February 27. Thousands of people at Lviv’s main train station attempted to board trains that would take them out of Ukraine.Hide Caption 104 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA Russian armored vehicle burns after fighting in Kharkiv on February 27. Street fighting broke out as Russian troops entered Ukraine’s second-largest city, and residents were urged to stay in shelters and not travel.Hide Caption 105 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineLocal residents prepare Molotov cocktails in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, on February 27.Hide Caption 106 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineCars line up on the road outside Mostyska, Ukraine, as people attempt to flee to Poland on February 27.Hide Caption 107 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian troops in Kyiv escort a prisoner February 27 who they suspected of being a Russian agent.Hide Caption 108 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian forces patrol mostly empty streets in Kyiv on February 27. Mayor Vitali Klitschko extended a citywide curfew.Hide Caption 109 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian service members take position at the Vasylkiv Air Base near Kyiv on February 27.Hide Caption 110 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA woman sleeps on chairs February 27 in the underground parking lot of a Kyiv hotel that has been turned into a bomb shelter.Hide Caption 111 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA damaged residential building is seen in Kyiv on February 26.Hide Caption 112 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople in Kyiv run for cover during shelling on February 26. Hide Caption 113 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineAn apartment building in Kyiv is seen after it was damaged by shelling on February 26. The outer walls of several apartment units appeared to be blown out entirely, with the interiors blackened and debris hanging loose. Hide Caption 114 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople in Kyiv take cover as an air-raid siren sounds February 26 near an apartment building that was damaged by shelling.Hide Caption 115 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA police vehicle patrols the streets of Kyiv on February 26.Hide Caption 116 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian troops inspect a site following a Russian airstrike in Kyiv on February 26.Hide Caption 117 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineFollowing a national directive to help complicate the invading Russian Army’s attempts to navigate, a road worker removes signs near Pisarivka, Ukraine, on February 26.Hide Caption 118 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA man kneels in front of a Russian tank in Bakhmach, Ukraine, on February 26 as Ukrainian citizens attempted to stop the tank from moving forward. The dramatic scene was captured on video, and CNN confirmed its authenticity. The moment drew comparisons to the iconic “Tank Man” of Tiananmen Square.Hide Caption 119 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople in Kyiv board a train heading to the west of the country on February 26. Kelly Clements, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, told CNN that more than 120,000 people had left Ukraine while 850,000 were internally displaced.Hide Caption 120 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian service members look for and collect unexploded shells after fighting in Kyiv on February 26.Hide Caption 121 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineSmoke and flames are seen near Kyiv on February 26. Explosions were seen and heard in parts of the capital as Ukrainians battled to hold back advancing Russian troops.Hide Caption 122 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineThe body of a Russian soldier lies next to a Russian vehicle outside Kharkiv on February 25.Hide Caption 123 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA woman weeps in her car after crossing the border from Ukraine into Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania, on February 25.Hide Caption 124 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA Ukrainian soldier sits injured from crossfire inside Kyiv on February 25.Hide Caption 125 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA child from Ukraine sleeps in a tent at a humanitarian center in Palanca, Moldova, on February 25.Hide Caption 126 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA firefighter walks between the ruins of a downed aircraft in Kyiv on February 25. Hide Caption 127 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineNewly married couple Yaryna Arieva and Sviatoslav Fursin pose for photo in Kyiv on February 25 after they joined the Territorial Defense Forces.Hide Caption 128 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineMembers of the Ukrainian National Guard take positions in central Kyiv on February 25.Hide Caption 129 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople walk past a residential building in Kyiv that was hit in an alleged Russian airstrike on February 25.Hide Caption 130 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineThe body of a school employee, who according to locals was killed in recent shelling, lies in the separatist-controlled town of Horlivka in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on February 25.Hide Caption 131 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineKyiv residents take shelter in an underground parking garage on February 25.Hide Caption 132 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineIn this handout photo from the Ukrainian government, firefighters respond to the scene of a residential building on fire in Kyiv on February 25. Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, said the city had been hit by “cruise or ballistic missiles.”Hide Caption 133 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA wounded woman stands outside a hospital after an attack on the eastern Ukrainian town of Chuhuiv, outside of Kharkiv, on February 24.Hide Caption 134 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineThe body of a rocket remains in an apartment after shelling on the northern outskirts of Kharkiv on February 24.Hide Caption 135 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA boy plays with his tablet in a public basement used as a bomb shelter in Kyiv on February 24.Hide Caption 136 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA man mourns after an airstrike reportedly hit an apartment complex in Chuhuiv on February 24.Hide Caption 137 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineSviatoslav Fursin, left, and Yaryna Arieva kneel during their wedding ceremony at the St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv on February 24. They had planned on getting married in May, but they rushed to tie the knot due to the attacks by Russian forces. “We maybe can die, and we just wanted to be together before all of that,” Arieva said.Hide Caption 138 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian service members sit atop armored vehicles driving in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region on February 24.Hide Caption 139 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople in Kyiv try to board a bus to travel west toward Poland on February 24.Hide Caption 140 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUS President Joe Biden arrives in the East Room of the White House to address the Russian invasion on February 24. “Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said, laying out a set of measures that will “impose severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time.”Hide Caption 141 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineSmoke rises from a military airport in Chuhuiv on February 24. Airports were also hit in Boryspil, Kharkiv, Ozerne, Kulbakino, Kramatorsk and Chornobaivka.Hide Caption 142 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople seek shelter inside a subway station in Kharkiv on February 24.Hide Caption 143 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineRussian military vehicles are seen at the Chernobyl power plant near Pripyat, Ukraine, on February 24. Russian forces have seized control of the the plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, according to the agency that manages the area.Hide Caption 144 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople wait after boarding a bus to leave Kyiv on February 24.Hide Caption 145 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian President Zelensky holds an emergency meeting in Kyiv on February 24. In a video address, Zelensky announced that he was introducing martial law. He urged people to remain calm.Hide Caption 146 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePolice officers inspect the remains of a missile that landed in Kyiv on February 24.Hide Caption 147 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA staff member of a Kyiv hotel talks on the phone on February 24.Hide Caption 148 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineSmoke rises from an air defense base after an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol on February 24. A CNN team in Mariupol reported hearing a barrage of artillery.Hide Caption 149 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople wait in line to buy train tickets at the central station in Kyiv on February 24.Hide Caption 150 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA long line of cars is seen exiting Kyiv on February 24. Heavy traffic appeared to be heading west, away from where explosions were heard early in the morning.Hide Caption 151 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA photo provided by the Ukrainian President’s office appears to show an explosion in Kyiv early on February 24.Hide Caption 152 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople in Moscow watch a televised address by Russian President Vladimir Putin as he announces a military operation in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine on February 24. “Whoever tries to interfere with us, and even more so to create threats to our country, to our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences as you have never experienced in your history,” he said.Hide Caption 153 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineAn emergency meeting of the UN Security Council is held in New York to discuss the crisis on February 23. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop “attacking Ukraine” and to give peace a chance.Hide Caption 154 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA convoy of Russian military vehicles is seen February 23 in the Rostov region of Russia, which runs along Ukraine’s eastern border.Hide Caption 155 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian soldiers talk in a shelter at the front line near Svitlodarsk, Ukraine, on February 23.Hide Caption 156 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineSmoke rises from a damaged power plant in Shchastya that Ukrainian authorities say was hit by shelling on February 22.Hide Caption 157 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA damaged house is worked on after shelling near the Ukrainian front-line city of Novoluhanske on February 22.Hide Caption 158 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineMourners gather at a church in Kyiv on February 22 for the funeral of Ukrainian Army Capt. Anton Sydorov. The Ukrainian military said he was killed by a shrapnel wound on February 19 after several rounds of artillery fire were directed at Ukrainian positions near Myronivske.Hide Caption 159 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian soldiers pay their respects during Sydorov’s funeral in Kyiv on February 22.Hide Caption 160 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA sign displays conversion rates at a currency exchange kiosk in Kyiv on February 22. Global markets tumbled the day after Putin ordered troops into parts of eastern Ukraine.Hide Caption 161 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineRussian howitzers are loaded onto train cars near Taganrog, Russia, on February 22.Hide Caption 162 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople who left a separatist-held region in eastern Ukraine watch an address by Putin from their hotel room in Taganrog, Russia, on February 21. Putin blasted Kyiv’s growing security ties with the West, and in lengthy remarks about the history of the USSR and the formation of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, he appeared to cast doubt on Ukraine’s right to self-determination.Hide Caption 163 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePutin signs decrees recognizing the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic in a ceremony in Moscow on February 21. Earlier in the day, the heads of the self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics requested the Kremlin leader recognize their independence and sovereignty. Members of Putin’s Security Council supported the initiative in a meeting earlier in the day.Hide Caption 164 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineProtesters demanding economic sanctions against Russia stand outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv on February 21. Only a small number of protesters showed up to demonstrate.Hide Caption 165 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineActivists hold a performance in front of the Russian embassy in Kyiv on February 21 in support of prisoners who were arrested in Crimea. They say the red doors are a symbol of the doors that were kicked in to search and arrest Crimean Tatars, a Muslim ethnic minority.Hide Caption 166 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian servicemen shop in the front-line town of Avdiivka, Ukraine, on February 21.Hide Caption 167 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople lay flowers at the Motherland Monument in Kyiv on February 21.Hide Caption 168 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA local resident shows the depth of a crater from shelling in a field behind his house in the village of Tamarchuk, Ukraine, on February 20.Hide Caption 169 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian service members are seen along the front line outside of Popasna, Ukraine, on February 20. Hide Caption 170 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople evacuated from the pro-Russian separatist regions of Ukraine are seen at a temporary shelter in Taganrog, Russia, on February 20.Hide Caption 171 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineAnastasia Manha lulls her 2-month-old son Mykyta after alleged shelling by separatists forces in Novohnativka, Ukraine, on February 20. Hide Caption 172 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA Ukrainian soldier stays on position on the front line near Novohnativka on February 20. Hide Caption 173 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA couple arrives at the city council to get married in Odesa on February 20. As Ukrainian authorities reported further ceasefire violations and top Western officials warned about an impending conflict, life went on in other parts of the country.Hide Caption 174 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy, left, visits soldiers at a front-line position in Novoluhanske on February 19. Minutes after he left, the position came under fire. No one was injured.Hide Caption 175 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA woman rests in a car near a border checkpoint in Avilo-Uspenka, Russia, on February 19.Hide Caption 176 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA Ukrainian service member walks by a building on February 19 that was hit by mortar fire in the front-line village of Krymske, Ukraine.Hide Caption 177 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineFighter jets fly over Belarus during a joint military exercise the country held with Russia on February 19.Hide Caption 178 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian soldiers stand guard at a military command center in Novoluhanske on February 19.Hide Caption 179 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePeople sit on a bus in Donetsk on February 18 after they were ordered to evacuate to Russia by pro-Russian separatists.Hide Caption 180 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineThe remains of a military vehicle are seen in a parking lot outside a government building following an explosion in Donetsk on February 18. Ukrainian and US officials said the vehicle explosion was a staged attack designed to stoke tensions in eastern Ukraine.Hide Caption 181 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA memorial service and candlelight vigil is held at the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv on February 18. They honored those who died in 2014 while protesting against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian leader who later fled the country.Hide Caption 182 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA kindergarten that officials say was damaged by shelling is seen in Stanytsia Luhanska, Ukraine, on February 17. No lives were lost, but it was a stark reminder of the stakes for people living near the front lines that separate Ukrainian government forces from Russian-backed separatists.Hide Caption 183 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineChildren play on old Soviet tanks in front of the Motherland Monument in Kyiv on February 16.Hide Caption 184 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineAmbassadors of European countries lay roses at the Wall of Remembrance in Kyiv on February 16. The wall contains the names and photographs of military members who have died since the conflict with Russian-backed separatists began in 2014.Hide Caption 185 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUS troops walk on the tarmac at the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in southeastern Poland on February 16. US paratroopers landed in Poland as part of a deployment of several thousand sent to bolster NATO’s eastern flank in response to tensions with Russia.Hide Caption 186 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA 200-meter-long Ukrainian flag is unfolded at the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv on February 16 to mark a “Day of Unity,” an impromptu celebration declared by President Volodymyr Zelensky.Hide Caption 187 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineTravelers wait in line to check in to their departing flights February 15 at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv. US President Joe Biden urged Americans in Ukraine to leave the country, warning that “things could go crazy quickly” in the region.Hide Caption 188 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA location of Oschadbank, a state-owned bank, is seen in Kyiv on February 15. The websites of Oschadbank and PrivatBank, the country’s two largest banks, were hit by cyberattacks that day, as were the websites of Ukraine’s defense ministry and army, according to Ukrainian government agencies.Hide Caption 189 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineA woman and child walk underneath a military monument in Senkivka, Ukraine, on February 14. It’s on the outskirts of the Three Sisters border crossing between Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.Hide Caption 190 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian service members talk at a front-line position in eastern Ukraine on February 14. Hide Caption 191 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineMembers of Ukraine’s National Guard look out a window as they ride a bus through the capital of Kyiv on February 14.Hide Caption 192 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineSatellite images taken on February 13 by Maxar Technologies revealed that dozens of helicopters had appeared at a previously vacant airbase in Russian-occupied Crimea.Hide Caption 193 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkrainePro-Russian separatists observe the movement of Ukrainian troops from trenches in Ukraine’s Donbas area on February 11.Hide Caption 194 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian service members unpack Javelin anti-tank missiles that were delivered to Kyiv on February 10 as part of a US military support package for Ukraine.Hide Caption 195 of 196

Photos: Russia invades UkraineUkrainian service members walk on an armored fighting vehicle during a training exercise in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region on February 10.Hide Caption 196 of 196

The regional government headquarters of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, is damaged <a href="https://www.cnn.com/europe/live-news/ukraine-russia-putin-news-03-29-22/h_b52e4de2ba95f5ad51832231788e413f" target="_blank">following a Russian attack</a> on Tuesday, March 29. At least nine people were killed, according to the Mykolaiv regional media office's Telegram channel.

Photos: Russia invades UkraineThe regional government headquarters of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, is damaged following a Russian attack on Tuesday, March 29. At least nine people were killed, according to the Mykolaiv regional media office’s Telegram channel.

This would take one of the most contentious issues off the table for now.

Both sides seemed to be in a constructive mood. Podolyak said the Russian negotiators have “taken the treaty that outlines ways to end the war and will work out their counter proposals.” Russian news agency TASS quoted the head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, as saying that the talks were constructive. And he said that “Russia is taking two steps towards Ukraine for de-escalation.” The most immediate of those is the Russian declaration that hostilities against Chernihiv and in the direction of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, would be drastically reduced. Chernihiv, in northern Ukraine, has been surrounded by Russian forces and has suffered devastating destruction over the past three weeks.

As significantly, Medinsky said that the Ukrainian proposals were now sufficiently formulated for them to “be presented to the President. And our appropriate response will be given.””Provided that the agreement is worked on quickly and a compromise is found, the opportunity to conclude peace will become closer,” Medinsky said — the most upbeat assessment from a Russian official since the first round of talks at the end of February. Russian officials have previously played down any involvement in the process of Putin, saying that more needed to be negotiated before the Russian leader personally sits down for direct talks.Now, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti — citing the Russian delegation — spoke of the possibility of a meeting between Putin and Zelensky simultaneously with the initialing of the peace treaty by the foreign ministers of both countries. Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Cavusoglu, who brokered the talks, sketched out a possible roadmap, with the “top priority of achieving a ceasefire as soon as possible to pave the way for a permanent political solution.” Those “trickier” issues would be bumped up to the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers to “make final adjustments to the common approach.” And then a meeting between Putin and Zelensky would be on the agenda, he said in remarks to reporters after the talks.

An outline emerges

For Ukraine, security guarantees have always been a critical part of any settlement to the conflict. Gradually, President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have walked away from Ukraine’s past insistence that it has the right — even the obligation — to apply for NATO membership, as is enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution. Now a very different formulation is emerging. One member of the Ukrainian team, Davyd Arakhamia, said after the meeting to Ukrainian TV: “We insist that this be an international treaty, signing all the guarantors of security, which will be ratified.” That treaty would have to be ratified by parliaments in the guarantor countries, according to Ukrainian officials, who are evidently building as much insurance into the mechanism as possible. The Ukrainians also want the guarantors to include the permanent members of the UN Security Council — Russia included.

Russia says it will reduce military operations around Kyiv following talks with Ukraine

Russia says it will reduce military operations around Kyiv following talks with UkraineThe guarantees would be very specific, Arakhamia said. In the event of aggression or a military operation directed at Ukraine, “consultations should take place within three days.” “After that, the guarantor countries are obliged to help us. And military aid, and the armed forces, and weapons, and the closed sky — everything that we need so much now, and we cannot get it.” The Ukrainians are now looking at what might be called protected — and permanent — neutrality. Another member of the Ukrainian delegation, Oleksandr Chalyi, put it this way: “Doing everything possible to restore Ukraine’s security is a key requirement. If we manage to consolidate these key provisions, which is the most fundamental requirement for us, Ukraine will in fact be in a position to fix its current status as a non-aligned and non-nuclear state in the form of permanent neutrality.” Significantly, Chalyi went on : “[We] will not deploy foreign military bases or military contingents on our territory, and we will not enter into military-political alliances. Military training in our country will be conducted with the consent of our guarantor countries.” That is and always has been at the heart of Putin’s demands, expressed in long speeches before he announced the start of what Putin called a “special military operation.”

Swapping NATO for the European Union

It’s becoming clearer that in return for forswearing the ambition of NATO membership, Ukraine expects a fast track to membership of the European Union — which it wants to be assisted by the guarantor countries. It’s likely that the prospect of EU membership — which is hugely popular among Ukrainians — would help get an overall deal approved in the national referendum that the Ukrainian government has promised to approve neutrality with security guarantees.

A far-right battalion has a key role in Ukraine's resistance. Its neo-Nazi links have given Putin ammunition

A far-right battalion has a key role in Ukraine’s resistance. Its neo-Nazi links have given Putin ammunitionThere is still a long way to go of course. Principles have been set out, but the detail, the sequencing and the language may be a minefield. Podolyak said: “Undoubtedly, this treaty on security guarantees may only be signed after a ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Russian troops to their positions on February 23, 2022.”While the Russians have agreed to reduce the operations of their forces north of Kyiv, that still leaves plenty of fighting underway: In the east, the northeast and the south. Even before he left the negotiating venue, Medinsky warned that the “gradual de-escalation” in the direction of Kyiv and Chernihiv “does not mean a ceasefire. But he said: “We understand that there are people in Kyiv who need to make decisions, so we do not want to expose this city to additional risk.” And so the clock is ticking.If the talks stutter or fail, Russian forces redeploying from the north of Kyiv could reinforce those trying to make headway in the east and south.Indeed, just this weekend Ukraine’s military intelligence chief warned that Putin could be looking to carve Ukraine in two — like North and South Korea.

“There is reason to believe that he is considering a ‘Korean’ scenario for Ukraine. That is, [Russian forces] will try to impose a dividing line between the unoccupied and occupied regions of our country. In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine,” Kyrylo Budanov said Sunday. Not only is there a lot of negotiating to be done — in the absence of a comprehensive ceasefire. There’s not much trust on the Ukrainian side of the Kremlin’s intentions. And as they never tire of saying, ultimately what happens is down to one man and one man only: Vladimir Putin.

Fuente: CNN, EEUU

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