Turkey ‘hopeful for cease-fire,’ says Russia, Ukraine close on ‘critical’ issues; Zelenskyy says failure may bring WWIII

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Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in an interview reportedly published Sunday that Ukraine and Russia are drawing closer to a permanent ceasefire.

“There is convergence on the two countries’ positions on the critical issues. We observe that they almost agreed on the first four articles, but decisions on some issues need to be given at the leaders level,” he said, according to Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News.

“We can say we are hopeful for a cease-fire if the sides do not take a step back from the current positions,” Çavuşoğlu added.

The first articles he mentioned are reportedly “Ukraine’s announced neutrality and statement that it won’t join NATO, disarmament of the country and mutual security assurances, de-Nazification of Ukraine and lifting restrictions on the use of Russian language.”

The two remaining articles reportedly pertain to Ukraine’s recognition of Russia’s control of Crimea and the Donbass region. Reaching an agreement on these articles is “seen as the most difficult” task to accomplish, according to Hürriyet.

What would help speed along the process, Çavuşoğlu said, was if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin would speak directly to one another.

“They must come together if there will be an agreement for peace. … We have a desire to hold a trilateral meeting. But this can happen only with the consent of the two leaders,” he told Hürriyet.

According to Reuters, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has also indicated that the “the two sides were getting closer on four key issues.”

Speaking on Al Jazeerea, he reportedly “cited Russia’s demand for Ukraine to renounce ambitions to join NATO, demilitarisation, what Russia has referred to as ‘de-nazification’, and the protection of the Russian language in Ukraine.”

He also reiterated the need for Zelensky and Putin to speak.

“Kalin said a permanent ceasefire could come only through a meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. But he said Putin felt that positions on the ‘strategic issues’ of Crimea and Donbas were not close enough for a meeting,” according to Reuters.

This news comes amid reports that Russia allegedly bombed a Mariupol art school where 400 people, including women and children, had been sheltering.

It also comes amid an announcement by the Ukrainian government that seven humanitarian corridors would be opened on Sunday, March 20th “to evacuate residents of settlements affected by the Russian invasion, as well as to send aid.”

And lastly, it comes amid a CNN interview with Zelensky that aired Sunday. In the interview, he stressed that negotiations with Russia are vital and warned that failure to reach an agreement could mean World War III.

“I’m ready for negotiations with him. I was ready for the last two years. And I think that without negotiations, we cannot end this war. If there’s just 1% chance for us to stop this war, I think that we need to take this chance. We need to do that. I can tell you about the result of this negotiations — in any case, we are losing people on a daily basis, innocent people on the ground,” he said.

“Russian forces have come to exterminate us, to kill us. And we can demonstrate that the dignity of our people and our army that we are able to deal a powerful blow, we are able to strike back. But, unfortunately, our dignity is not going to preserve the lives. So, I think we have to use any format, any chance in order to have a possibility of negotiating, possibility of talking to Putin. But if these attempts fail, that would mean that this is a third World War.”

To be clear, it would only mean a third world war if NATO were to involve itself in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Despite Zelensky’s desperate pleas for NATO intervention, the alliance has refused to budge out of concerns about the potential ramifications.

The problem is that when a CNN interviewer then asked Zelensky about making compromises with Russia, the Ukrainian president made it clear that he had a red line.

“There are compromises for which we cannot be ready as an independent state — any compromises related to our territorial integrity and our sovereignty. And the Ukrainian people have spoken about it: They have not greeted Russian soldiers with a bunch of flowers. They have greeted them with bravery. They have greeted them with weapons in their hands,” he said.

He added that Russia “cannot curry favor with the citizens of another country forcibly. You cannot just make a president of another country to recognize anything by the use of force.”


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