'Will Radically Reduce Military Ops Near Ukraine's Capital Kyiv': Russia
The statement came amid another round of peace talks between the two countries held in Istanbul on Tuesday.
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Russia's Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin announced on Tuesday, 29 March, that Moscow had decided to withdraw Russian forces from near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and Chernihiv to "increase mutual trust" at talks aimed at ending the war.
Fomin's statement came amid another round of peace talks between the two countries, held in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday.
Fomin said, "Given that the talks on the preparation of an agreement on the neutrality and non-nuclear status of Ukraine have moved into a practical field... a decision has been made to radically... reduce the military activity in the areas of Kyiv and Chernihiv," news agency AFP reported.
The Ukrainian military's general staff had earlier noted the withdrawals around Kyiv and Chernihiv.
An adviser to the Ukrainian president said the meeting in Istanbul was focused on securing a cease-fire and guarantees for Ukraine's security, issues that were not successfully negotiated in previous talks.
Ukraine made a series of proposals during the talks on Tuesday, which included abandoning its ambition to join NATO.
The country asked for 'legally binding security guarantees from Western countries'.
"We want an international mechanism of security guarantees where guarantor countries will act in a similar way to NATO's article number five –and even more firmly," Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said after talks with the Russian delegation.
He said that Ukraine wanted the United States, China, France and Britain, all members of the United Nations Security Council, as guarantor nations, in addition to Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Poland and Turkey.
"Ukraine would accept neutral status if the security guarantees work," said Arakhamia.
Oleksandr Chaly, another Ukrainian negotiator at the talks, said Ukraine won't join "any military-political alliance".
With foreign security guarantees in place, Chaly said that Ukraine "won't host on its territory any foreign military base" once the foreign security guarantees are in place.
However, he added that "military exercises with guarantor states could be held in Ukraine".
Ukraine also insisted that the "international accord on the country's security not block Ukraine's possible membership in the EU", reported AFP.
The country also wanted security guarantors to "pledge to aid Ukraine's EU accession process".
Ukraine also proposed to sidestep the territory of Crimea and the others in the eastern Donbas region.
Arakhamia said that for the accord would "temporarily exclude" these areas so that the security guarantees can quickly come into force.
'Historic Responsibility to Stop Fighting'
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the two sides that they had a "historic responsibility" to stop the fighting.
"We believe that there will be no losers in a just peace. Prolonging the conflict is not in anyone's interest," Erdogan was quoted as saying.
Further, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said, "The results of today's meeting are sufficient for a meeting at the leaders' level," raising the possibility of a meeting between Zelenskyy and Putin.
'Ready for Neutrality': Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
This comes just days after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that his government was "carefully" considering Russia's demand for Ukrainian neutrality, a key point of contention between the two countries.
In an interview with several independent Russian news organisations, he had said, "This point of the negotiations is understandable to me and it is being discussed, it is being carefully studied," news agency AFP reported.
Zelenskyy added, "Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point."
A key demand from Putin, even before the country had launched its military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, has been for Ukraine to renounce its intention of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
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Topics: Russia Ukraine Vladimir Putin
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