Ukraine and Russia may be edging close to a peace deal, according to official statements from Kyiv and Moscow on Wednesday.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said he sees possible room for compromise in talks with Moscow, as the Russian delegation’s positions sound more “realistic.”
In a video address early on Wednesday Zelensky said that despite the continued Russian offensive “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.
“Efforts are still needed, patience is needed,” he said. “Any war ends with an agreement.”
The Ukrainian president is due to address the US Congress on Wednesday and NATO military commanders will also meet in Brussels to draw up plans for new ways to deter Russia, including more troops and missile defenses in eastern Europe, officials and diplomats said.
Russia: Ukraine must become a neutral state as a precondition for a peace deal
The Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday said that Ukraine becoming a neutral state with a status comparable to Austria and Sweden is being discussed at talks with Kyiv and would be a “compromise.”
“This is an option that is being discussed now and that can be considered as a compromise,” Kremlin spokesman Peskov told journalists, raising hopes of an end to the biggest war in Europe since World War II.
Russia’s chief negotiator in the talks with Ukraine, Vladimir Medinsky, said that the Austrian and Swedish models would mean Ukraine will be able to keep its army but won’t be allowed to host foreign bases or troops.
Earlier in the day, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told the Russian RBC news site that some parts of a possible peace deal with Ukraine were close to being agreed to after Kyiv reportedly agreed to discuss neutrality.
“Neutral status is now being seriously discussed along, of course, with security guarantees,” Lavrov said.
European leaders visit Ukraine
Three European leaders made a long and hazardous journey by rail from Poland to Ukraine on Tuesday in a show of support as Kyiv came under further Russian attack.
The prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday evening as a curfew began in Kyiv.
Afterward, the Czech leader told Ukrainians that they are “not alone”. The group are the first Western leaders to visit Ukraine since Russia invaded the country.