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Tags: russia | ukraine | negotiations | denazify

Russia Drops 'Denazification' in Negotiations

Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 29 March 2022 10:06 AM EDT

Russia no longer was requesting that Ukraine "denazify" as part of cease-fire negotiations, Financial Times reported.

Moscow also was willing to let Ukraine join the European Union (EU) if it remains militarily nonaligned, four people briefed on the discussions told Financial Times.

Russian and Ukrainian envoys were meeting in Istanbul on Tuesday in a fourth round of peace talks. They were discussing a pause in hostilities as part of a potential peace deal that would involve Kyiv giving up hopes of joining NATO.

In return, Ukraine would receive security guarantees and the prospect of joining the EU. David Arakhamia, a member of Kyiv's negotiating team, said Ukraine would get "wording close to NATO's Article 5" — whereby the alliances' members must come to each other's aid if one is attacked — for security guarantees from countries including Russia, the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, China, Italy, Poland, Israel, and Turkey.

Financial Times said a draft cease-fire document did not contain any mention of three initial Russian demands — denazification, demilitarization, and legal protection for the Russian language in Ukraine.

Ukraine also would refrain from developing nuclear weapons or hosting foreign military bases.

Ukraine and Western officials, though, remained skeptical of Russian President Vladimir Putin's intentions. The officials worried that Putin was dragging out talks to buy time to replenish his forces.

Putin began his unprovoked attack on Ukraine on Feb. 24. The Kremlin's troops pretty much have stalled due to fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Financial Times reported that the biggest sticking point — Ukraine's attempts to reclaim territory seized by Russia since 2014 — would be settled in a tentative future discussion between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, sources told Financial Times.

Arakhamia told Financial Times that Russia was demanding that Ukraine recognize Moscow's control over the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed in 2014, as well as two territories run by Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbas region.

"We will never recognize any kind of borders except as they are in our Declaration of Independence," Arakhamia told Financial Times. "This is the most critical point."

Arakhamia, leader of Zelenskyy's party in Parliament, told the Financial Times that the parties were close to agreement on the security guarantees and Ukraine's EU bid. However, he urged caution about the prospects for a breakthrough.

"All the issues" have been "on the table since the beginning" of negotiations but there are "lots of points — like in every single item there are unresolved points," Arakhamia told Financial Times.

Another person briefed on the negotiations said Russia seemed to be shifting its position almost daily, both in terms of military pressure and on demands such as Kyiv's demilitarization.

Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov refused to discuss the negotiations.

"[We] can't and won't talk about progress" because "it could only harm the negotiating process," Peskov was quoted as saying by Interfax on Monday.

"For now, unfortunately, we cannot speak of any significant achievements and breakthroughs."

Zelenskyy told Russian journalists Sunday that his country adopting a neutral status would "take years" because it must be ratified by Parliament.

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Russia no longer was requesting that Ukraine "denazify" as part of ceasefire negotiations, Financial Times reported.
russia, ukraine, negotiations, denazify
Tuesday, 29 March 2022 10:06 AM
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