Negotiations in Turkey between Ukraine and Russia appeared to have made some headway today, with Russia saying it will pull back troops around Kyiv so talks can continue. A couple of days ago, President Volodymyr Zelensky told independent Russian media outlets that Ukraine is pushing for “Security guarantees and neutrality, the non-nuclear status of our state,” adding that negotiations are open for the “complex question of Donbas.”
Today, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin stated “Due to the fact that negotiations on the preparation of an agreement on the neutrality and non-nuclear status of Ukraine, as well as on the provision of security guarantees to Ukraine, are moving into practice, taking into account the principles discussed during today’s meeting, by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation 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 radically, at times, reduce military activity in the Kiev and Chernigov direction.”
Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that Russia was willing to change its initial demands that started the invasion.
Citing unnamed sources involved in the negotiations, Russia is reportedly willing to drop its demand of “denazifying” and “demilitarizing” Ukraine, and instead settle for all of the points recently presented by Ukrainian officials so. FT also suggested that Russia is willing to let Ukraine join the European Union, as long as it stays out of NATO.
Russia’s announcement of pulling troops back around Kyiv also comes as the Ministry of Defense announced that the “First Phase” of the invasion is complete and that their focus is now on “fully liberating” Donbas. While the option of peace is on the table, Russia will likely use this time to pull back, regroup, and resupply if they choose to continue operations north and east of Kyiv as the current tempo is unsustainable with Russian advancements stalling for weeks in these areas.