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Russian leader Vladimir Putin has reportedly laid out a list of conditions to be met for him to call off the brutal invasion of neighboring Ukraine during a Thursday conversation with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.
According to a BBC report, the man who has drawn international condemnation over his aggressive actions spoke with his Turkish counterpart by phone on what it would take in order for him to bring an end to the incursion which Putin has called a “special military operation” that grows bloodier by the day.
With Turkey being a member of NATO as well as sharing a Black Sea maritime border with both countries, the nation could be an important partner in negotiations to end the hostilities and walk the world back from the precipice of WW III.
Shortly after the call, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson spoke with Ibrahim Kalin who is Erdoğan’s leading adviser and spokesman and a “part of the small group of officials who had listened in on the call.”
The BBC reports that Russia’s demands “fall into two categories” with the first four being “not too difficult for Ukraine to meet,” according to Kalin, the first being for Ukraine to accept that it “should be neutral and should not apply to join NATO,” the BBC noted. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has already conceded this.
Additional demands in the first category are described as “face-saving elements for the Russian side,” including that “Ukraine would have to undergo a disarmament process to ensure it wasn’t a threat to Russia,” that there would have to be “protection for the Russian language in Ukraine” and something that Putin calls “de-Nazification” which is “deeply offensive” to President Zelenskyy who is Jewish and had relatives who died during the Holocaust.
The report states that “the Turkish side believes it will be easy enough for Mr Zelensky to accept. Perhaps it will be enough for Ukraine to condemn all forms of neo-Nazism and promise to clamp down on them.”
The second category of conditions will be more difficult, according to the BBC and Putin told Erdoğan that there would need to be “face-to-face negotiations” between himself and Zelenskyy “before agreement could be reached on these points.”
Zelenskyy has said that he is open to sitting down to meet with Putin.
“Mr. Kalin was much less specific about these issues, saying simply that they involved the status of Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, parts of which have already broken away from Ukraine and stressed their Russianness, and the status of Crimea, the BBC reported. “Although Mr. Kalin didn’t go into detail, the assumption is that Russia will demand that the Ukrainian government should give up territory in eastern Ukraine. That will be deeply contentious.”
There is also the matter of Crimea which was snatched by Putin in 2014 back when Barack Obama was in the White House.
“The other assumption is that Russia will demand that Ukraine should formally accept that Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, does indeed now belong to Russia. If this is the case, it will be a bitter pill for Ukraine to swallow,” according to the BBC.
Putin’s openness to negotiations comes as the invasion enters its fourth week with reports of deteriorating morale among Russian troops as they continue to face fierce resistance from Ukrainians.
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