Russia's Medinsky: certain progress made on number of points in talks with Ukraine, but not on all of them
MOSCOW. March 16 (Interfax) - Russia and Ukraine have achieved certain progress on a number of points, but not on all of them, during their negotiations, and the sides' positions are quite clear, Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, who heads the Russian delegation to the talks with Ukraine, said.
"There is certain progress on a number of points, but not on all of them. The sides' positions have been formulated. They are quite clear. We are moving forward one step at a time, for the benefit of all interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens," he said, at the same time noting a slow pace and difficulty of the negotiations.
"The negotiations have been difficult and slow. Of course, we would like everything to happen much quicker, this is the sincere wish of the Russian side. We want to agree on peace as soon as possible," Medinsky said.
"The primary objective of the negotiating group is to sieve the huge number of complicated problems and find those where consent is possible, to rely on them, to draw these common matters into the agenda, and to slowly, step by step, move towards a result, an agreement on peace to satisfy our peoples," he said.
The objective sought by Russia at the negotiations with Ukraine remains unaltered, Medinsky said.
"The goal pursued by Russia at these negotiations is exactly the same as the goal set by Russia at the very beginning of the special military operation. We need a peaceful, free and independent Ukraine, a neutral one, not a member of some military blocs or a member of NATO, but a country that would be our friend and neighbor, so that we could jointly develop relations and build our future and that would not serve as a bridgehead for a military and economic attack on our country. So, our goal is unchanged," Medinsky said.
This is why "practically every digit or letter in the agreements" is being thoroughly discussed with the Ukrainian side, Medinsky said.
According to Medinsly, Kyiv has proposed at negotiations that Ukraine develop into an Austrian or Swedish variant of a demilitarized state, which, however, has a national army.
"The preservation and development of the neutral status of Ukraine, demilitarization of Ukraine, a whole range of issues regarding the size of the Ukrainian army are being discussed. Ukraine is offering an Austrian, Swedish variant of a neutral demilitarized state, which, however, will have a national army and navy. All these issues are being discussed at the level of heads of the Russian and Ukrainian defense ministries," Medinsky told reporters.
"Ukraine already has the neutral status. It was on the terms of neutrality that Ukraine withdrew from the Soviet Union in 1991, and the neutrality status is affirmed in the Ukrainian Declaration of Sovereignty," he said.
"Clearly, the key question for us is the status of Crimea and Donbas, as well as a number of humanitarian issues," Medinsky said.