29 Mar 2022 17:28

Putin-Zelensky meeting possible only if held simultaneously with initialing Russia-Ukraine agreement - Medinsky

ISTANBUL. March 29 (Interfax) - A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky is possible only if it is held simultaneously with the initialing of a peace agreement, head of the Russian delegation to the talks with Kyiv, presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky said.

"As a result of today's substantive conversation, we have approved and offer a solution, according to which a meeting between the heads of state is possible simultaneously with the initialing of the agreement," Medinsky told reporters after talks with the Ukrainian delegation in Istanbul on Tuesday.

The possibility of a Putin-Zelensky meeting was discussed from the very beginning on condition of the preparedness for signing the agreement by the heads of state, he said.

"The proposed format is like this: first an agreement will be drafted, then the agreement will be approved by the negotiators and signed by the foreign ministers at a meeting, and then the possibility of a meeting between the heads of state will be discussed in order to sign this agreement," Medinsky said.

"This is not an easy question, especially since the meeting could be multilateral, involving states serving as the guarantors of peace and security in Ukraine," he said.

An option proposed on Tuesday, which implies a meeting between the presidents held simultaneously with the initialing of an agreement by the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine, will create additional opportunities for the discussion of political nuances, Medinsky said. "Hence, if the agreement is drafted promptly and the required compromise is reached, the possibility of a peace agreement will emerge much sooner," he said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian delegation member David Arahamia told reporters that Ukraine had proposed signing a new international agreement on security guarantees to include an article similar to Article 5 of the NATO Founding Act in regard to collective defense.

"We insist on an international agreement to be signed by all security guarantors that initial it in order not to repeat the mistake made in the Budapest Memorandum," Arahamia said. Kyiv is interested in having "an effective international mechanism to give specific security guarantees to Ukraine," he said.

The agreement should declare an obligation of the guarantor states to provide military assistance to Ukraine in the event of attack, by analogy with Article 5 of the NATO Founding Act.

First and foremost, Ukraine views UN Security Council members, such as the United States, China, the United Kingdom and France, as well as Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland and Israel, as its security guarantors, Arahamia said.

As to Crimea and the territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions uncontrolled by Kyiv, the international security guarantees will temporarily not apply to these territories, Arahamia said.

Kyiv proposes that all guarantor countries pledge to support Ukraine's admission to the European Union in the agreement.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the Ukrainian presidential office chief who took part in the negotiations, told journalists that the agreement on security guarantees for Ukraine should be approved at a referendum.

Kyiv proposes that a separate clause of the agreement refer to Ukraine-Russia negotiations on the status of Crimea and Sevastopol, while the issue of the uncontrolled territories of Donbas is proposed to be discussed between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Podolyak said.

Ukraine promises to refuse to join military alliances, while Russia does not object to its membership in the European Union, Vladimir Medinsky said.

"Ukraine refuses to join military unions, to deploy foreign military bases, contingents, or hold military exercises on Ukrainian territory without the consent of the guarantor states, including the Russian Federation," Medinsky told reporters in Istanbul on Tuesday.

"For its part, the Russian Federation does not object to Ukraine's aspirations to join the European Union," he said.

The planned agreements involve identifying the responsibilities of the guarantor states, "as Ukraine becomes a neutral, non-aligned state," Medinsky said.