All news

Russia, Ukraine are close to agreement on some clauses at their talks — Lavrov

The Russian Foreign Minister expressed hope that the businesslike approach by Kiev representatives will allow the sides to reach an agreement about a neutral status for Ukraine

MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Russia and Ukraine are close to agreement on certain clauses that they came up with during their talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on RBC television on Wednesday.

"A neutral status [for Ukraine] is now by and large seriously discussed in conjunction with security guarantees, of course," he said in an interview. "That’s exactly what President [of Russia Vladimir] Putin said at one of his news conferences in February: Any possible options, any generally accepted security guarantees for Ukraine and all countries including Russia with the exception of NATO expansion."

"That’s what is being discussed at the talks now," Lavrov went on to say. "There are absolutely concrete phrases there that, in my opinion, are close to being agreed upon."

However, he didn’t elaborate on the exact language that he was referring to, citing diplomatic decorum. "Unlike some of our partners, we are trying to maintain the decorum of diplomatic negotiations, although at some stage we were forced to release to the public some documents that are usually classified," Lavrov said. "It was done in situations where our contacts with German and the French partners in the Normandy Format were distorted when they were presented in public, were turned 180 degrees around, and at the time we were simply forced, in order for the world community to know who is who, to make them public."

"With regards to the current discussion of the guarantees of Ukraine’s neutrality, there are no such provocative attempts," the minister said.

He expressed hope that the businesslike approach by Kiev representatives will allow the sides to reach an agreement about a neutral status for Ukraine. "I really hope that the businesslike approach, which is coming to the fore, although not too fast or easily, I hope it will prevail," Lavrov said. "It raises hope that we will be able to reach specific agreements on this issue (the neutrality of Ukraine - TASS)."

"Although it’s clear that a declaration of neutrality and announcement of guarantees alone would, of course, will be a significant step forward, but the problem is much broader, and we talked about it, among other things, from the perspective of these much-vaunted values: the Russian language, culture, freedom of speech," the minister said.

The first round of negotiations between the delegations of Russia and Ukraine was held in the Gomel Region of Belarus on February 28, and the meeting lasted five hours. The second round took place in Belovezhskaya Pushcha on March 3, the third one in the Brest Region on March 7. On March 10, on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in the Turkish city of Antalya, a meeting was held between Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers Sergey Lavrov and Dmitry Kuleba. Negotiations are now held on a daily basis via a video link.

On February 24 Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in response to a request for help by the heads of the Donbass republics. He stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories, but aims to demilitarize and de-Nazify the country.