Turkey takes center stage as peacemaker in Ukraine-Russia talks, Kyiv says 'no consensus' reached yet

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Turkey has taken center stage in attempts to end Russia’s deadly war in Ukraine, but top government officials in Kyiv said Friday that “no consensus” had been reached.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NATO nations have repeatedly called on the Kremlin to remove all Russian forces from its southern neighbor. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 15, 2022.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

But Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly laid out a list of six demands he says need to be met in order to broker a deal with Zelenskyy.

In a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week Putin broke down his demands, several of which the Turkish government appears to believe are achievable.

Speaking from the NATO summit in Brussels Thursday, Erdoğan said Kyiv and Moscow had almost reached “a consensus” on four of the six areas of disagreement. 

But Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba pushed back on this claim Friday. 

“There is no consensus with Russia on the four points mentioned by the president of Turkey. In particular, the Ukrainian language is and will be the only one state language in Ukraine,” Kuleba said in a statement after expressing gratitude to Erdoğan for taking on the peace-making role.

Putin has demanded that Ukraine refrain from joining the NATO alliance, agree to a disarmament deal, protect the Russian language and “de-Nazify” Ukraine. 

A view of destruction after Russian airstrikes hit civil settlements in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, March 13, 2022. 
(State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Zelenskyy has already conceded on his ambitions to join NATO.

But Kuleba made clear Friday that Putin’s demands regarding the Russian language are a nonstarter. 

Calls for disarmament and the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine are expected to be met with resistance given that Ukrainians are defending themselves from a Russian invasion coupled with the fact that Zelenskyy was democratically elected to the presidency as a Jew.

Demands that could jeopardize Ukraine’s territorial integrity are also expected to be among Putin’s list of ultimatums. 

Ukrainian civilians receive weapons training in Lviv, Ukraine, March 19, 2022. 

“The negotiation process is very difficult,” Kuleba said. “The Ukrainian delegation has taken a strong position and does not relinquish its demands. 

“We insist, first of all, on a cease-fire, security guarantees and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he added. 

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