The Peace Talks between Russia and Ukraine

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As per the reports of UNHCR around 902 civilians have died as of the 27th of March; this is just an estimated number as the UN body has revealed that the actual number would be much higher. The city which has suffered the greatest devastation due to this war is Mariupol, the south-eastern city of Ukraine which has been under attack for the past three weeks, Civilians are losing their lives. Schools, shopping malls, residential areas, and hospitals are being bombarded. It is estimated that around more than 2,300 people were killed in Mariupol alone.

While addressing the Doha Forum on 27th March, French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian called Mariupol “the new Aleppo”—the Syrian city which was destroyed in the Syrian civil war. Greek diplomat Manolios Andreoulakis, on his return from Mariupol, had said, “what I saw, I hope no one will ever see.” The situation in the city seems like a dreadful scene from an apocalyptic movie.

Russia is desperately after Mariupol and the reason is its strategic location. Mariupol is a coastal city; on its right lie the Russian-occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, and on its left are Russian-occupied Crimea and Kherson. Russia is trying hard to get control of all the important cities but somehow the Ukrainian soldiers have stood steadfast in protecting the remaining cities, as much as possible. Hence, making it difficult for Russia to further invade the country.

This would have been good news for Ukraine but sadly, the Russian government is still bombing these areas as well the ones it can’t get access to. The casualties are very high in these regions as well. Civilians are being killed, and schools and cities are being destroyed there as well. One such city, Zhytomyr, in the west of Kyiv, saw some terrible attacks by Russian soldiers.

The first round of face-to-face Russia-Ukraine peace talks was held in Turkey on March 29th. Previously, all the negotiations between both nations, during this ongoing war, were on video calls. The negotiations started off with the statement of President Erdogan, “It is up to the two parties to put an end to this tragedy.”

The whole world is waiting for the good news, but we must remember that the negotiations won’t be easy because there is someone who wants to continue this war. On 28th March, the Wall Street Journal reported that a Ukrainian peace negotiator and Roman Abramovich – a Russian billionaire – showed symptoms of poisoning. Their eyes had turned red, and their skin started peeling off. Fortunately, they are out of danger, but the real question is, who tried to poison them? Who doesn’t want both parties to end the war? Were they really given poison or is it just another conspiracy theory?

According to the news reports, Russia and Ukraine are ready to compromise, to some extent, to bring peace and end the war. Prior to the Russia-Ukraine peace talks, the compromise offer laid down by the Ukrainian president, Zelensky, included a neutral, non-nuclear Ukraine which won’t join NATO as well. He was ready to compromise on some territories as well. If the war stopped where it is, Ukraine has promised not to recapture the separatist-controlled areas in eastern Donetsk and Luhansk, which are now Russian-controlled.

On the other hand, Russia also agreed to compromise on some grounds. According to a Financial Times report, Russia would allow Ukraine to join the European Union and won’t interfere if Ukraine doesn’t join NATO. The report claims that the Ukrainian officials agreed to this and that they weren’t very interested in joining NATO.

Now the question is if everything is clear then what’s preventing the war from ending? There are mainly two problems. The first one is Putin himself; as per reports, he doesn’t want to compromise in any way. The second problem might arise over negotiating territories. It is also being deliberated that Russia might split Ukraine into two countries, dividing the south-eastern part of Ukraine and wanting it to be acknowledged as a separate country. Though the Russia-Ukraine peace talks in Turkey have concluded with no resolution to the conflict, it is expected of Ukraine to negotiate to some extent, but will it allow Ukraine to be divided? That is the most important question.

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