War in Ukraine, fourth round of negotiations: Zelensky ready to make concessions, but Putin skips the meeting

Of Marta Serafini

Kiev willing to give in on neutrality, on Crimea and on the Donbass, but the Kremlin threatens: We will take all Ukrainian cities. It is the US and the EU that push us towards this step

from our correspondent
LEOPOL – Fourth round of negotiations between Kiev and Moscow. This time it goes online, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talking about difficult talks. Breaking news this evening makes it known, after its chief negotiator, Mikhailo Podolyak, talks about a 24-hour technical break needed for additional work in the sub-committees. The clear mandate: to promote a summit meeting with Russian President Putin, a hypothesis that was not entirely excluded even by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Then, in the late evening, a cold shower: Russia has not yet received a request for President Putin to participate in a telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Zelensky.

The latest news on the war in Ukraine

The dialogue goes back to standby, while the highest confidentiality is in force. In a video message, relaunched by Russian agencies, Zelensky reiterates that Ukrainians must resist to achieve peace, with guarantees of security for the country. The hypothesis that Kiev is ready to make important concessions on the crucial points of the negotiations: its neutrality and the future of Crimea and Donbass. But on the other front, the Kremlin threatens: we will take all Ukrainian cities. And he accuses: it is the US and the EU that are pushing Moscow towards this step.

In this scenario, international diplomacy tries to move its steps. US President Joe Biden had a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and Zelensky. In Rome, the American national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with the Chinese Yang Jiechi, chief of diplomacy for the Communist Party. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz flew to Ankara to see Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while Ankara tries to help dialogue between Moscow and Kiev. And, above all, iIsraeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, currently considered the main candidate to carry out effective mediationspoke on the phone with Putin for an hour and a half to address the possibility of a ceasefire.

With the allies, in the meantime, Putin is keeping another front open, in some way linked to the ongoing clash with the West, announcing a visit to Moscow by Iranian Hossein Amir-Abdollahian for Tuesday. Moves and countermoves. Meanwhile, diplomacy’s chess game has to deal with the military field. For Moscow to weigh the advance on Kiev, slowed down over the weekend. For Kiev, the increasing number of victims in the East and Northeast – 636 dead of which 46 are minors – and the bombing of the supply and training base of foreign volunteers in Yavoriv, ​​struck at dawn on Sunday.

Finally, the humanitarian crisis. The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, speaks of another 40 million dollars to meet the assistance needs of the communities affected by the conflict. Since the start of military operations, over 2.8 million people have left Ukraine, according to UN data. Many of these have reached neighboring countries: Poland, Hungary, Romania. No EU member state can be left alone to deal with the refugee emergency, he says Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, on a visit to Romania, where he expressed the closeness of the Italian government in Bucharest, exhibited in the front row in the reception of refugees. The emergency requires a common response at the European level, stressed Di Maio, who urged the EU to become independent from Russian gas as soon as possible.

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