Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine held in Istanbul

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Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine were held in Istanbul on Tuesday with Russia promising to scale down its military operations around Kyiv and northern Ukraine. The talks, hosted by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a palace in Istanbul, came as Russia’s invasion has been halted on most fronts by strong resistance, with Ukrainians recapturing territory in counter-attacks, even as civilians are trapped in besieged cities.

The talks were the first face-to-face meeting between the sides since March 10. Ukraine proposed adopting a neutral status but with international guarantees that it would be protected from attack. The proposals would include a 15-year consultation period on the status of Russian-annexed Crimea, and could come into force only in the event of a complete ceasefire, the negotiators said.

Top Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said he would examine the Ukrainian proposals and report on them to President Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian negotiators called for a meeting between Putin and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. During the talks an adviser to Zelenskiy, Mykhailo Podolyak, said security guarantees and conditions for a ceasefire to resolve humanitarian problems were being discussed.

Billionaire Roman Abramovich, one of the Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, was seen attending the peace talks. More than a month into the war, the biggest attack on a European nation since World War Two, more than 3.9 million people have fled abroad, thousands have been killed and injured, and Russia’s economy has been pummelled by sanctions.

Some Ukrainian refugees have decided to make the journey back home to their country where they left their loved ones behind. Mother of two Yuliya Kuzyk from Kalush in west Ukraine departed on a bus from Warsaw in a bid to return home to her family and friends. She was one of many who have requested to go back despite the uncertainty over the end of the fighting.

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