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War in Ukraine: Russia withdraws, kyiv offers its neutrality … what to remember this Tuesday

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Every day, Midi Libre takes stock and offers you an inventory of the conflict in Ukraine.

1 – Russia announces to reduce its operations in the North

Russia pledged at peace talks in Turkey on Tuesday to sharply reduce its military operations in northern Ukraine, including around kyiv, while Ukraine offered to adopt neutral status in exchange for international guarantees for its safety.

The talks held at a presidential palace on the banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul were the first in the direct presence of negotiators from both sides since March 10. In Turkey’s view, they have been the most productive since the first diplomatic contacts aimed at finding a solution to the conflict triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

They took place while the situation seems to be bogged down on the ground, with Ukrainian cities still besieged and bombarded but a Russian army stationary on the ground, even in retreat in the face of Ukrainian counter-offensives, especially near kyiv.

“In order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and achieve the ultimate goal of concluding and signing (an) agreement, a decision was taken to drastically reduce, to a large extent, the military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin told reporters.

The Russian army general staff will provide more details on this after the delegation of Russian negotiators returns to Moscow, he added.

Ukraine, for its part, presented the most detailed and concrete offer made public by either side since the beginning of the conflict.

It proposes to adopt a neutral status in exchange for guarantees for its security, which would translate in particular into the fact that it would not join any military alliance and that it would not host foreign military bases on its soil, said the Ukrainian negotiators.

In exchange, its security would be guaranteed in terms identical to the provisions of Article 5 of NATO, which constitutes a collective defense clause.

2 – kyiv wants a summit between Zelensky and Putin

Ukrainian negotiators cited Israel and three NATO members (Poland, Canada and Turkey) as countries likely to be guarantors of its security. Russia, the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Italy could also be involved.

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kyiv is also proposing a 15-year consultation period on the status of Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014. However, this consultation could only begin with a complete ceasefire on the ground.

The fate of Donbass, a region in eastern Ukraine whose territories controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014 were recognized as independent by Moscow just before the start of the conflict, would be set aside for discussion by Russian leaders and Ukrainian himself.

Any peace agreement will have to be approved by referendum in Ukraine, underlined the negotiators of kyiv, by judging their proposals sufficiently fleshed out to allow the holding of a summit between the Ukrainian presidents Volodimir Zelensky and Russian Vladimir Putin.

The main Russian negotiator, Vladimir Medinski, judged for his part that these talks had been “constructive” and he announced that he would examine the Ukrainian proposals and report to Vladimir Putin.

“If we succeed in consolidating these essential provisions (…) then Ukraine will be in a position to effectively settle the question of its current status as a non-bloc and non-nuclear country in the form of permanent neutrality”, has says Ukrainian negotiator Oleksander Chaly.

“We will not host foreign military bases on our territory, nor the deployment of military contingents on our territory and we will not integrate political-military alliances”, he added, and possible military maneuvers in Ukraine will have to be approved by the countries guaranteeing its security.

Faced with the largest attack on a European country since World War II, nearly four million Ukrainians have already fled their country, while thousands more have been killed or injured.

3 – Ukrainian resistance continues

In Mariupol, a port in southeastern Ukraine besieged and bombarded since the first days of the conflict, nearly 5,000 people died, according to a report provided by the mayor which could not be verified.

In the areas of the city now in the hands of the Russian army, the few inhabitants who venture outside look like ghosts wandering in streets strewn with debris in the middle of gutted and charred buildings.

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While explosions sound in the distance, a little girl dressed in a pink coat and wearing a yellow cap plays with a stick in a setting of ruins. A person passes with a wheelbarrow filled with objects gleaned from the rubble.

“Look at our food supply. There are eight of us. We have two crates of potatoes, a crate of onions,” laments Irina, an engineer, in her apartment with shattered windows.

In the stairwell, soup is cooking on a makeshift stove. Elsewhere, the Russian army appears to be coming up against fierce resistance from Ukrainian troops, who have regained ground in recent days around kyiv, as well as in the northeast and south of the country.

In an area taken over by Ukrainian forces northeast of the capital, the road leading to the village of Roussaniv is strewn with carcasses of armored vehicles and shreds of Russian uniforms. The surrounding houses are destroyed. A Ukrainian in uniform digs a hole to bury the charred corpse of a Russian soldier.

In Mykolaiv, in the south, a missile hit the city’s main administrative building, killing at least seven people and injuring 20, according to local authorities.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Russia has largely completed the first part of its ‘special operation’ in Ukraine, damaged its neighbor’s military capabilities and will now focus on claimed areas by pro-Russian separatists.

Similar statements on Friday by Russian authorities were interpreted in Western countries as a sign of Russia backing away from its original goal of regime change in Kyiv.

Emmanuel Macron was to meet in the course of the afternoon with Vladimir Putin. The French president was also due to participate in a telephone meeting of several European leaders with his American counterpart Joe Biden, while the United States, the European Union and several Western countries imposed heavy economic and financial sanctions on Russia after its invasion. from Ukraine.

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