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Parts of a possible peace deal between Russia and Ukraine may be agreed soon.
Vladimir Putin's 'special military operation' has stretched into its 21st day, with three million refugees fleeing Ukraine, thousands of civilian casualties and troops being killed on either side of the conflict.
Peace talks have been ongoing between the two countries, while consistently punctuated by further warfare, whether it's strikes on Kyiv or residents trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol, coming after Russian forces bombed a maternity hospital.
Significant. Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov says that, at their ongoing peace negotiations Ukraine and Russia are now discussing “concrete formulations, that are close to agreement.”— Patrick Reevell (@Reevellp) March 16, 2022
According to Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, some formulations for a peace agreement are nearing completion.
'I am guided by the assessments given by our negotiators. They say that the negotiations are not easy for obvious reasons. But nevertheless, there is some hope of reaching a compromise,' he told RBC News, as per Reuters.
'Neutral status [for Kyiv] is now being seriously discussed along, of course, with security guarantees.
'Now this very thing is being discussed in negotiations - there are absolutely specific formulations which in my view are close to agreement.'
Lavrov also said the peace deal would need to consider the use of Russian language in Ukraine, as well as freedom of speech. He also criticised the US for its lack of action in trying to resolve the conflict, instead supporting Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials haven't directly commented on Lavrov's observations, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said peace talks are looking 'more realistic'.
'We all want peace. As soon as possible. We all want to win. And there is always a feeling that a little more, and we will get what belongs to us, Ukraine, by right,' he said in his most recent nightly address.
'But efforts are still needed. It takes patience. We still have to fight. And work - everyone in their place. Everyone. In particular, our representatives, our delegation in negotiations with the Russian Federation.
'It is important. It is difficult, but important, because any war ends in an agreement. Meetings continue. As I am told, the positions in the negotiations sound more realistic. However, time is still needed for the decisions to be in Ukraine's interests.'
However, this wasn't echoed by Putin, who accused Kyiv of failing to show a 'serious commitment' to the peace talks.
'Vladimir Putin laid out his principled assessments of the ongoing talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives on an agreement that would take into account Russia’s earlier demands,' a Russian statement read.
'He stressed that Kiev is not showing a serious commitment to finding mutually acceptable solutions.'
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information
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