On Tuesday, March 29th, 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators continued peace talks in an attempt to halt the ongoing war between the neighboring nations. Moscow has stated that they will reduce (not stop) attacks on northern Ukraine as part of what they consider to be a gesture of goodwill.

A Possible Ease of Hostilities

If true, that would ease hostilities around the capital of Kyiv, and the bombed-out city of Chernihiv as Ukrainian troops maintain strong resistance against the Russian invaders there.

The remains of what used to be a building in Chernihiv, Ukraine
The remains of what used to be a building in Chernihiv, Ukraine. Image credit: The Independent

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Formin had the following to say on the subject:

“The decision has been taken to fundamentally cut back military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernihiv.”

He noted that this would “increase mutual trust for future negotiations” in order “to agree and sign a peace deal with Ukraine.”

Sincere Hint at Peace or a Plot to Buy Time?

Skeptics might say that Russia’s recent statements about shifting their military focus to eastern Ukraine (home to a pro-Russian separatist movement) is only a tactic to enable them to reposition their forces and prepare for a stronger, more focused assault on the capital.

One thing is for sure; the Ukrainians are not relaxing their defenses or backing down a bit.

Presidential Face to Face

A close advisor to Russian President Putin, Vladimir Medinsky, has told the press that the negotiations have been constructive and that his country is sincere in its efforts at de-escalation. Furthermore, Medinsky has intimated that it would be possible for Putin and Ukrainian President Zelensky to meet face to face, but only after an agreement is ready to be signed.

No to NATO?

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Zelensky, stated that Ukraine offered to adopt what he referred to as a “neutral status.” In short, that means they would not join military alliances such as NATO. This was a significant demand made by the Russians before coming to the negotiating table.
Screenshot from Twitter (@Podolyak_M)

In what seems to this writer like a somewhat contradictory statement, Podolyak also announced via Twitter that his country requires “NATO-style” guarantees, provided by guarantor states like the US, the UK, Turkey, France, and Germany. He stated that these nations would be “legally actively involved in protecting Ukraine from any aggression.”

What is abundantly clear is that Ukraine needs the help of the rest of the world, and they need it now.

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