Turkey’s positive and constructive efforts to stop the Ukraine-Russian War, to reach a ceasefire and to achieve lasting peace are continuing in Istanbul. First, on March 10, Foreign Ministers of both countries Kuleba and Lavrov met in Antalya. Subsequently, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visited both sides on-site, this Istanbul meeting call was made and accepted. Today (March 29) the first meeting concluded with a positive result. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that there will be no meeting tomorrow (March 30). Interviews may continue in another format and after preparation on the date. However, the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia from the West continue. Let’s look at today’s developments and their meaning.
Ukraine and Russia Istanbul Meeting (29 March)
Çavuşoğlu said: “The most meaningful progress has been made today, rapprochement has increased, a ceasefire is a priority, a permanent political formula is needed, progress has been made today, there is a common understanding for reconciliation. After these technical studies, the Foreign Ministers and then the Presidents of both countries can sit at the table. Opening corridors for humanitarian aid and evacuations, etc. The topics were discussed.”
There are basically three topics in Ukraine’s proposals to the Russian side: General Issues; Military and Diplomatic Maneuver; Security; Soil (Crimea and Donbass); The Humane Corridor.
According to the statement of the Ukrainian delegation, “The Russian side was constructive, Ukraine made its offers, Russia will respond to them.”
The Russian delegation said, “The necessary basis for a leaders’ meeting should be established, we will respond to the proposals, the details will be studied, and if there is an agreement, peace is possible.”
Military and Diplomatic Maneuver
Russian Deputy Defense Minister said: “The talks are constructive, Russia will reduce its military operations in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions.”
My assessment on this issue is as follows: I have stated before, I know that Russia has made operative changes based on the changing operational strategy near Kyiv, and therefore some Russian forces in the region have withdrawn. While the issue of slowing down the operation pointed out by Russia in Ukraine’s Capital Kyiv and Chernihiv in the north-east of it was a maneuver depending on the changes in military strategy, Russia also used it as a diplomatic maneuver in the Istanbul talks.
Ukraine will be a neutral country if the necessary security guarantees are given (there is NATO here) and European Union (EU) membership is paved.
Let’s continue with Ukraine’s offers. There will be guarantor countries (the guarantor can be 8 countries and Turkey can be included here). Ukraine will not negotiate with Russia to join the EU. Ukraine will not join NATO. But Ukraine asked NATO for a new security guarantee. There is a guarantor offer within the scope of NATO’s Article 5 in the Ukrainian proposals. This proposal can be called the “Zelensky model”. Zelensky proposes a new new security system. In case of attack/threat, the guarantors and NATO are requested to have the right to call an emergency summit within three days. It is said that if the problem is not resolved, other aids, including weapons, will come into play.
My assessment of NATO is as follows: It is unknown whether Zelensky took NATO’s opinion before suggesting this point. In the first place, if NATO makes this security initiative for Ukraine, it can do it for other places from now on. This causes an undesirable change in NATO founding conditions. NATO does not change the constituents with such cyclical changes. However, this can happen if all the Guarantor Powers are members of NATO and an Additional Protocol is signed by Russia in the Ukraine Peace Agreement. This time, it is out of the question for Russia to accept such an issue. Let’s not forget that Russia entered this war so that NATO would not be involved. So, I consider that the “Zelensky model” will not work.
A referendum on Crimea was proposed. However, before that, the war will stop and the people will come to their place, and the people will vote with the 1991 status structure. Before all of them, bilateral talks on this subject will continue and preparations will be made. In the referendum proposal, the decisions of the Ukrainian parliament and the rules of international law will prevail. If there is no peace environment, there will be no referendum!
The Ukrainian delegation stated that the Donetsk and Luhansk issue would be resolved by Zelensky and Putin.
According to the information received, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk announced that an agreement was reached with the Russian side on three humanitarian corridors, one of which is directly from the besieged city of Mariupol.
Interrupting the Call
Why was the 30 March calendar of the meeting not followed? No statement was made from Russia. However, considering that the works will be carried out by themselves in order to prepare the response to the Ukrainian demands, this one-time meeting in Istanbul may have been deemed sufficient. This study can also be done several times by video conference.
On the other hand, Russia already appears at the peace table and then makes a move and runs its own process. The same may have happened in Istanbul. Putin or Lavrov may have ordered the delegation back. This possibility seems more likely to me.
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