High-level Russia-Ukrainian talks set for Thursday in Turkey are largely thanks to the efforts of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Ukrainian media quoted the country’s top diplomat as saying.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed that he will sit at the negotiation table in Antalya, Turkey with Sergey Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported.
“The meeting, planned to be held on March 10, will be held primarily thanks to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu,” UNIAN quoted him as saying, referring to a meeting on the sidelines of Turkey’s Antalya Diplomacy Forum. “I do not know whether (President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan convinced (Russian President Vladimir) Putin or Lavrov, but the meeting will take place.”
Saying that Lavrov has been avoiding any meeting with him either one-on-one or as part of the Normandy Quartet for two years, Kuleba said: “Now he suddenly agreed, maybe he wants to convey something. We will listen, but I will talk to him with the understanding that Lavrov is one of the architects of the aggression against Ukraine.”
Asked whether Russian-occupied Crimea and Donbas will be discussed during the meeting, Kuleba said that Ukraine is not in a position to give up anything in the negotiations.
The three-day Antalya Diplomacy Forum in the Turkish resort city of the same name is set to start Friday, and the Russian-Ukrainian meeting the day prior.
Earlier, expressing hope that the meeting “will be a turning point” and “important step” towards peace and stability, Cavusoglu said Ankara would “continue to make efforts for a lasting peace.”
Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow. and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.
At least 474 civilians have been killed and 861 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, according to the UN, which noted that conditions on the ground make it difficult to verify the true number.
Some 2 million people have also fled to neighboring countries, said the UN refugee agency.