Russo-Ukraine war: Watch live as Kamala Harris news conference in Poland
Foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet in Turkey on Thursday, the highest level of talks between the two countries since the Russian offensive began two weeks ago. They will discuss the war at a time when Russia is ramping up its air strikes against civilian targets, and the humanitarian situation in several Ukrainian cities has worsened.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he hoped a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmitry Kuleba, “will open the door for a permanent ceasefire.”
Both Russia and Ukraine have softened their stance in recent days, raising hopes that a ceasefire may be possible.
The Kremlin has downplayed its demands to focus on Ukrainian “neutrality” and the status of its occupied territories, and has indicated that President Vladimir V. Putin is no longer set on regime change in Kyiv.
On the Ukrainian side, President Volodymyr Zelensky has suggested that he is open to revising his country’s constitutionally implied aspiration to join NATO, and even the Ukrainian territory now controlled by Russia. Even to compromise on the situation.
Mr Zelensky said on Wednesday he hoped Mr Putin would eventually end hostilities and enter talks after his army faced fierce resistance in Ukraine. An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed during the two-week offensive, a US official said on Wednesday, up from an estimate of 3,000 a few days ago.
“I think he sees that we are strong,” Mr Zelensky told Vice News during an interview in Kyiv. “That would be. We need some time.”
Talks on Thursday will take place in the Turkish city of Antalya, a coastal region that has been a popular destination for Russian tourists for years.
Turkey is a more neutral place than Belarus, where the first three rounds of talks have taken place. Mr. Erdogan The sanctions against Russia over the invasion have stopped, but their country is a NATO member that has provided Ukraine with deadly armed drones.
Yet Russian and Ukrainian demands are still a long way off.
The Kremlin said this week that it would halt military operations if Kyiv enshrined a position of neutrality in its constitution and recognized Russian sovereignty over Crimea and the independence of two Russia-backed separatist regions of eastern Ukraine. It is still far from what Mr Zelensky has said he would be willing to accept. Russia’s situation could tarnish Mr Putin’s image at home as well, leading him to face criticism that he waged a costly war for limited gains.
Even if Russia and Ukraine agree on a ceasefire, it does not necessarily mean the end of the war. Analysts have cautioned that both sides can use it to increase strength before moving forward.
Mr Kuleba said on Wednesday that his hopes for talks in Turkey were low.
As Mr Kuleba meets Mr Lavrov, Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland, a NATO ally on Ukraine’s western border, in Warsaw on Thursday. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is visiting Poland this week, will also attend.
The United States and its NATO allies are trying to find ways to help Ukraine defend itself without engaging in a wider war against Russia. In a sign of how difficult it is proving, the United States and Poland publicly disagreed this week over proposals to send Soviet-era fighter jets to the country.
The head of the US European Command, General Todd D. Wolters, said in a statement early Thursday that the United States “has no plans to facilitate indirect or third-party transfers of Polish aircraft” to Ukraine.
Providing Ukraine with more air-defense systems and anti-tank weapons is the most effective way to support the country’s military, General Walters said, and Ukrainian air defense is limiting the effectiveness of Russia’s critical air capabilities.
The transfer of fighter jets from Poland to Ukraine “will not significantly increase the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Air Force,” he said. It could be “misunderstood as an escalator and could result in Russian escalation with NATO.”
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