Russia is starting to talk constructively, a Ukrainian negotiator has said (Pictures: AFP/Getty Images/EPA)
Russian and Ukrainian officials have given the brightest assessment of progress in talks on the war yet.
A ‘joint position’ could be reached soon as Vladimir Putin’s negotiators begin ‘to talk constructively’, according to reports.
But statements from both camps have been vague, with little clue as to exactly what sort of deal could emerge.
The positive assessments come as Kremlin troops ‘wipe out an entire city in Ukraine’.
Meanwhile, Kyiv residents are bracing for a long-feared all-out onslaught.
Speaking today, Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian negotiator and adviser to President Volodymir Zelensky, said: ‘I think that we’ll achieve some results literally in a matter of days.’
He has warned ‘we will not concede in principle on any positions’.
‘Russia now much more adequately perceives the world around it’, he said.
‘It is much more sensitive to the position of Ukraine, which has been proven in battlefields, and in Ukraine’s actions in terms of protecting its interests.
Many buildings are now rubble in Kharkiv, Ukraine (Picture: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
‘Our proposals are on the table, and they are very tough. First of all, they concern the withdrawal of troops, the ceasefire, and so on. In principle, we will not give up any of our positions.
‘Russia already understands this. Russia is starting to talk constructively.’
Meanwhile, Russian delegate Leonid Slutsky was quoted as saying: ‘According to my personal expectations, this progress may grow in the coming days into a joint position of both delegations, into documents for signing.’
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych has previously said Mariupol is an important focus for negotiators.
‘Apocalyptic’ scenes are emerging in the besieged city, with food and water running low and mass graves being dug, the Red Cross has warned.
Last Monday, the Kremlin’s chief spokesman said Putin was ready to call back his troops ‘in a moment’ if Kyiv met a list of conditions.
Among these demands were the government acknowledging Crimea as Russian territory, and recognising the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states.
Speaking on ABC, President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week ‘we can discuss and find a compromise on how these territories will live on’ – but added ‘we’re not ready for capitulation’.
Putin said there had been some ‘positive shifts’ in talks on Friday but offered no specifics.
Ukrainian servicemen carry the body of a comrade on a stretcher in the city of Irpin (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)
Senior US diplomat, Wendy Sherman has agreed that Russia is showing more a willingness to engage in substantive negotiations.
However, France’s Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was far less optimistic, telling French radio the war would be long and ‘the worst was ahead of us’.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said talks were ongoing tonight.
But this was contradicted by Russia, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying they are instead planned for Monday via videolink, RIA reports.
It comes as Boris Johnson vows to ‘continue to pursuing more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence’.
In a call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday, the prime minister said the UK would ‘continue to stand behind Ukraine in all their efforts to bring an end to this disastrous conflict’.
He commended Mr Zelensky and the Ukrainian people on their ‘fortitude’, adding that Putin’s ‘barbaric actions’ were “testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity’, No 10 said.
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