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Top diplomats of Russia, Ukraine reach Türkiye for trilateral talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba have arrived in the Turkish resort province of Antalya ahead of a tripartite meeting between top diplomats of Türkiye, Russia, and Ukraine.

The meeting will take place on Thursday at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum as part of Ankara’s efforts to mediate between the warring countries.

Kuleba expressed hope on Wednesday that his Russian counterpart Lavrov will approach talks in Türkiye on ending the two-week war in a sincere manner.

“I hope he will approach these talks in good faith, not from a propaganda perspective, but really with the task of finding a solution on how to end the war waged by Russia,” Kuleba said in a video message posted on Facebook.

The delegations will stay in separate hotels before the crucial meeting.

Türkiye trying for permanent truce

“We are working to stop this crisis transforming into a tragedy,” Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

“I hope the meeting between the ministers will open the way to a permanent ceasefire.”

Türkiye’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has expressed hope that the meeting will be a “turning point” and “important step” toward peace and stability.

Senior Ukrainian officials, including the defence minister, have held a sequence of meetings with a Russian delegation in Belarus largely devoted to humanitarian issues, but Moscow has not sent any ministers to the talks.

The meeting is likely to be tense after Kuleba in an interview last week with CNN described Lavrov as the “Ribbentrop of his time” in reference to the foreign minister of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Türkiye has close ties with both Ukraine and Russia.

Erdogan has called the Russian invasion “unacceptable” but at the same time, his country has not joined Western sanctions against Moscow and refused to close its airspace to Russian planes.

But as part of multilateral agreement of Montreux Convention, Türkiye has blocked Russian warships to pass through the Turkish straits to the Black Sea.

Tough negotiations

Moscow has put up various conditions to end its war in Ukraine.

It wants Ukraine to amend its constitution to state unequivocally that Kiev will not join any military alliance such as NATO and that annexed Crimea is a Russian territory.

In February 2019, Ukraine’s parliament approved amendments to the constitution that enshrined Ukraine’s desire to join NATO.

Kiev wants the war on its territory to end and Russian troops to completely withdraw from Ukrainian soil, including in Crimea and anti-Kiev rebel-held Donbass region.

The first round of negotiations took place on February 28 in Gomel, Belarus near the Ukrainian border and lasted five hours. The second round took place on March 3 and the third on March 7, both in the Brest region of Belarus.

Since Russia began its war against Ukraine on February 24, it has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow and spurred an exodus of global companies from Russia.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed or wounded while more than 2.1 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries, according to the UN.

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