Kiev needs to agree on presidential meeting at next round of talks with Russia: Zelensky

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky gives a news conference on his two years in office, at the Antonov aircraft factory. Irina Yakovleva/TASS

Representatives of Ukrainian and Russian delegations must agree on a meeting between the presidents of two countries during their upcoming talks, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said on Monday, reports TASS

“Representatives of our countries’ delegations negotiate daily in an on-line format,” President Zelensky said. “Our delegation has a clear-cut task to do everything possible to organize the presidential meeting, which, I am sure, is anticipated by everyone. They must understand that it is a complicated story, as well as a tough, but extremely needed path.”

“Our aim is that in the course of this fight and this difficult negotiating process Ukraine gets the necessary result, which is necessary for all of us, for peace and security, for us to have normal and effective guarantees.”

David Arakhamiya, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, told Strana news website earlier in the day that another round of talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations will start on Monday morning in an on-line format. According to him, “[March 14] talks will be held via video link-up starting at 10:30,” but he did not specify the time zone.

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS late last week that another round of talks between Moscow and Kiev would he held in the on-line format on Monday. Peskov also said that Russia’s delegation at on-line talks with Ukraine would be led by Russian Presidential Aide Vladimir Medinsky, just like at the previous rounds of talks.

The first round of Russian-Ukrainian talks was held in Belarus’ Gomel region on February 28. The talks lasted for five hours.

The second round of negotiations was held on March 3 in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, in Belarus. The talks yielded an agreement to open humanitarian corridors in order to evacuate civilians.

The delegations met for the third round of talks on March 7, in the Brest region, also in Belarus. On March 10, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmitry Kuleba, on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in Turkey’s Antalya.

On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees at a ceremony in the Kremlin recognizing the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR). Putin met with DPR leader Denis Pushilin and LPR leader Leonid Pasechnik, and signed treaties with them on friendship, cooperation and mutual aid between Russia and both republics.

President Putin said in a televised address on February 24 that in response to a request from the heads of the Donbass republics, he had decided to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people “who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years.” The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory.

The Russian Defense Ministry reassured earlier that Russian troops are not targeting Ukrainian cities, and are limited to surgical strikes and incapacitating Ukrainian military infrastructure, insisting that there is no threat whatsoever to the civilian population.