- Ukraine offered to never join NATO during peace talks with Russia Tuesday.
- Meanwhile, Russia said it would pull back its assaults near Kyiv and Chernihiv.
- Negotiations between the two countries have been unsuccessful in the monthlong war.
Ukraine offered to never join NATO and remain neutral in exchange for significant security guarantees as Ukrainian and Russian representatives met for a round of peace talks in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Though peace talks had shown little progress, Tuesday’s deliberations were a notable step forward in the effort to end a war, which has lasted over a month and claimed thousands of lives.
The Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podoliak tweeted After the meeting that Ukraine wanted to see a “security guarantees treaty with an enhanced analog of Article 5 of NATO” that would be reinforced with the help of countries like the US, UK, Germany, and France.
Podoliak said security guarantees must be “unconditional” and called for the implementation of humanitarian convoys and corridors.
Russia’s lead negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, also said Ukraine proposed that Russia would not oppose Kyiv’s intentions to join the European Union, which Moscow had previously viewed as unacceptable.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced it would scale back assaults on the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, the capital, and Chernihiv — two cities that have faced bombardment by Russian forces but remain under Ukraine’s control.
“Taking into account the principles discussed during today’s meeting … in order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and achieving the ultimate goal of agreeing on the signing of the above agreement, a decision was made to drastically reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv direction,” Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin told reporters, according to the state-run Ria news agency.
UK intelligence said on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces had successfully been able to counter Russian attacks and push back Putin’s forces from a number of positions.
Russia’s advance on Ukraine has largely stalled across multiple fronts. Its Defense Ministry previously said forces would focus on the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.
The United Nations said on Monday it had recorded 2,975 civilian deaths in Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24 — 1,151 and 1,824 injuries — but acknowledged that the actual toll was likely much higher.
Ukraine’s offer to remain neutral, and abandon its NATO aspirations, would be a significant concession to Russia.
The Kremlin has for years complained of NATO’s eastward expansion, portraying it as an existential threat to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also repeatedly insisted that Ukraine be permanently barred from NATO to guarantee Russia’s security. NATO has firmly rejected this demand, underscoring that its open-door policy is nonnegotiable, while dismissing the notion it poses a direct threat to Russia.
Ukraine is not on the formal path to join NATO, and no alliance troops are permanently based there. Despite this, Putin blamed the contentious situation with Ukraine on the West and NATO in the lead-up to Russia’s full-scale invasion last month.