Ukraine war: Parts of possible peace deal with Russia close to being agreed, Lavrov claims | World News

Parts of a possible peace deal between Russia and Ukraine are close to being agreed, the Russian foreign minister has said, as negotiations to end the conflict continue.

Sergei Lavrov said some formulations for an agreement are near completion, with neutral status for Kyiv under “serious” consideration.

“Neutral status is now being seriously discussed along, of course, with security guarantees,” Mr Lavrov told RBC news.

Negotiations are under way. Pic: Turkish Foreign Ministry/Handout via Reuters

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“Now this very thing is being discussed in negotiations – there are absolutely specific formulations which in my view are
close to agreement,” he added.

There has been no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials.

US has ‘no interest in resolving crisis’, says Lavrov

Mr Lavrov said, however, that there are other issues to consider, including the use of the Russian language in Ukraine and freedom of speech.

He added that Russia sees no sign the United States is interested in resolving the conflict. The US, he added, has a decisive role in defining the position of Ukrainian authorities.

He made the comments as early morning airstrikes hit the capital Kyiv, with shelling edging closer to the city centre.

The Kremlin has said the idea of creating a demilitarised Ukraine, similar to Austria, with its own army could be seen as a compromise.

Evacuations and shelling continue in Ukraine

“This is a variant that is currently being discussed and which could really be seen a compromise,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by RIA news agency.

Ukraine was promised by NATO as far back as 2008 that it would one day become a member of the alliance however, Russia has said it cannot allow that to happen, and cited it as part of the reason for its invasion of the country.

The issue of sanctions, the Kremlin added, are also being discussed in talks with Ukraine and there will be personal sanctions on the leaders of unfriendly countries.

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The victims in Mariupol’s maternity ward

Russia presses Ukraine to drop NATO bid

Before Tuesday’s talks, Mr Lavrov said Moscow would press its demands that Ukraine drop its bid to join NATO, adopt a neutral status and “demilitarise”.

In a statement that seemed to signal potential grounds for agreement with Moscow, Mr Zelenskyy told European leaders gathered in London that he realizes NATO has no intention of accepting Ukraine.

“We have heard for many years about the open doors, but we also heard that we can’t enter those doors,” he said. “This is the truth, and we have simply to accept it as it is.”

NATO does not admit nations with unsettled territorial conflicts.

The key updates on Wednesday:
Zelenskyy says peace talks ‘more realistic’ – as European leaders risk train ride to Kyiv to offer support
Johnson meeting controversial Saudi leader in bid to end ‘addiction’ to Russian oil
• Zelenskyy to address US Congress, as NATO defence ministers meet in Brussels
Fox News cameraman and Ukrainian journalist killed near Kyiv
More than 122,000 Britons have now registered interest for refugee scheme

Mr Zelensky has repeatedly said in recent weeks that he realises NATO is not going to offer membership to Ukraine and that he could consider a neutral status for his country but needs strong security guarantees from both the West and Russia.

Evacuations and shelling continue

The UN said close to 700 civilians in Ukraine have been confirmed killed – but this is likely an underestimate with the true figure much higher, with reports of bodies being buried in mass graves.

The Red Cross is in the process of evacuating people in around 70 buses from the northeastern town of Sumy, which lies near the Russian border.

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The exodus from Mariupol marked the biggest evacuation yet from the southern city of 430,000, where officials say a weeks-long siege has killed more than 2,300 people and left residents struggling for food, water, heat and medicine.

According to Ukraine, four Russian generals have been killed in the fighting.


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