“Russia and Ukraine both emphasized new-found scope for compromise on Wednesday as peace talks were set to resume three weeks into a Russian assault that has so far failed to topple the Ukrainian government.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the talks were becoming “more realistic,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was “some hope for compromise,” with neutral status for Ukraine – a major Russian demand – now on the table.
The Kremlin said the sides were discussing status for Ukraine similar to that of Austria or Sweden, members of the European Union that are outside the NATO military alliance.
Three weeks into the invasion, Russian troops have been halted at the gates of Kyiv, having taken heavy losses and failed to seize any of Ukraine’s biggest cities in a war Western officials say Moscow thought it would win within days.
Ukrainian officials have expressed hope this week that the war could end sooner than expected – even within weeks – as Moscow was coming to terms with a lack of fresh troops to keep fighting.
Talks were due to resume on Wednesday by video link for what would be a third straight day, the first time they have lasted more than a single day, which both sides have suggested means they have entered a more serious phase.
“The meetings continue, and, I am informed, the positions during the negotiations already sound more realistic. But time is still needed for the decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in a video address overnight.”
Comment: The Ukrainians’ best hope lies in continuing to kill Russian soldiers in an effort to demonstrate to Moscow that in fact their campaign is well past the “culminating point” I wrote of earlier.
If I were among the Ukrainian leaders, I would accept the notion of neutralization of Ukraine and the loss of some territory in the east, but I would never accept the idea of the disarmament of the country. Neutrality has worked well for Sweden, Finland and Switzerland BECAUSE they are heavily armed. pl