Tuesday, March 29, 2022

War in Ukraine: No Breakthroughs But Peace Talks Spark Hope

Well, don't get your hopes up. Moscow's just pulling back from Kyiv to reposition its forces and bide time for further gains in other parts of the country. Putin's campaign to "topple" Kyiv has been a complete disaster, and in my mind, it raises questions about Russia's great power status. I mean, Russia's like a Third World petrostate with nukes. 

No matter. The country's a threat to Europe, and by extension to the U.S. through our alliance commitments. 

At the Washington Post, "Ukraine-Russia talks in Turkey stir optimism, but Western allies urge caution":

ISTANBUL — Ukrainian negotiators in Turkey said Tuesday they had offered a detailed peace proposal to their Russian counterparts, exchanging military neutrality for security guarantees, as Moscow said it would “drastically reduce” military activity near the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv “to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations.”

The declarations from the two sides followed hours of negotiations hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government in an ornate palace on the Bosporus strait. They signaled a rare moment of optimism after weeks of halting negotiations that have done nothing to slow the bloody invasion.

But U.S. and other Western leaders were skeptical, saying they would judge Russia by its actions and not its words. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said there were continued strikes Tuesday on Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. “We’re not convince that the threat to the capital city has been radically diminished,” he said.

Russia, whose forces have bombarded Ukrainian cities for weeks, said in a statement that Tuesday’s talks had focused on “humanitarian issues." The Kremlin also signaled it will keep fighting for Mariupol, a key southern port city, saying that unless “Ukrainian nationalist militants” stop resisting and lay down their arms, it will be difficult to “resolve the acute humanitarian situation” there.

The centerpiece of the Ukrainian proposal was a pledge that the country would give up its bid to join NATO in exchange for a security system guaranteed by international partners including the United States, Turkey and others. Ukrainian negotiators likened the offer to Article 5 of NATO’s charter, which ensures the alliance’s collective defense.

The guarantor parties — including European countries, Canada and Israel — would provide Ukraine with military assistance and weapons if it were attacked, the negotiators said. Ukraine, in turn, would ensure it remained “nonaligned and nonnuclear,” although it would retain the right to join the European Union.

The Ukrainian proposal also offered a 15-year timeline for negotiations with Russia over the status of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s lead negotiator, characterized the talks to reporters afterward as a “substantive conversation.” Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said the discussions amounted to “the most meaningful progress since the start of negotiations."

Reaction from the United States was mixed, even as Moscow’s pledge to reduce military activity boosted U.S. stock markets on Tuesday morning. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed skepticism about the talks in Turkey, saying Moscow’s brutal, month-old military offensive leaves little room for optimism...

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