MOSCOW. March 18 (Interfax) – Ukraine’s neutral status and non-accession to NATO are the topics on which Moscow and Kyiv have maximally converged their positions at the ongoing talks, head of the Russian delegation and presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky told reporters on Friday.
“The topic of Ukraine’s neutral status and non-accession to NATO is one of the key points at the talks and this is the point on which the sides have brought their positions maximally closer,” Medinsky said.
However, these points have nuances related to security guarantees for Ukraine, he said. “The nuances are related to what kind of security guarantees Ukraine gets in addition to the existing ones in the event that it refuses to join the NATO bloc,” Medinsky said.
According to Medinsky, Moscow and Kyiv are “somewhere halfway” when it comes to demilitarization of Ukraine as part of the ongoing negotiation process between the parties.
The progress of the parties’ negotiating positions on such matters as denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine can be evaluated in different ways, he said. “As for demilitarization, I would say it’s fifty-fifty,” Medinsky said.
“The thing is that I am not authorized to disclose any details of the talks and will not do so, [will share] neither specific numbers, nor arguments of the negotiating parties, but we’re somewhere halfway when it comes to this matter,” he said.
As for a a potential meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, it will be possible to speak about it only after the text of the two countries’ treaty is approved, Medinsky told reporters.
“I am not ready to comment on it at all. The only thing I can say is that before speaking about the leaders’ meeting, the delegations of negotiators need to draft and agree the text of the treaty, after which the text of the treaty based on our proposals should be initialed by the foreign ministers, and, consequently, it [the treaty] will be approved by the governments. Only after that, it makes sense to speak about a summit of the heads of these states,” Medinsky said when asked whether a possible meeting between Putin and Zelensky could take place in the near future.
Mykhaiko Podolyak, advisor to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said earlier that a Putin-Zelensky meeting could be held upon completion of the work on the treaty. According to Podolyak, it could take place in the coming weeks.
Medinsky noted that the call from Oleksiy Arestovych, advisor to the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, to wage a “rail war” can badly affect the ongoing talks between Russia and Ukraine.
“I think these kinds of extreme figures can severely undermine the negotiating process and the minimal green shoots of understanding between our delegations,” Medinsky said.
“The last thing I want to do is comment on the calls from Arestovych, a well-known Ukrainian video blogger, who reckons himself as an advisor to the Ukrainian president on something like, I believe, security and warfare-related issues. His performances could be interpreted as a direct call for terrorism. That’s the only way,” Medinsky said in response to the relevant question.