Russia-Ukraine Peace Talks Enter a New Phase in Istanbul

ISTANBUL — On Tuesday, for the primary time in additional than two weeks, Ukrainian and Russian negotiators got here nose to nose. They did so over a white tablecloth at a protracted desk inside a Nineteenth-century Ottoman palace on the banks of the Bosporus, welcomed personally by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who greeted them in English with “good morning.”

After greater than a month of talks — first in particular person in Belarus, then in latest weeks by video hyperlink — the diplomacy between Ukraine and Russia working in parallel to their warfare entered a brand new part on Tuesday. The truth that the negotiations had turn into extra critical was mirrored within the setting, the palace the place Mr. Erdogan — who has maintained ties with each Moscow and Kyiv — usually holds main authorities occasions when in Istanbul.

“Because the members of the delegations, you might have shouldered a historic accountability,” Mr. Erdogan informed the delegates, addressing them from a podium earlier than an paintings displaying birds drifting over Istanbul landmarks. “All of the world is anticipating excellent news from you.”

David Arakhamia, the pinnacle of the nine-person Ukrainian delegation, mentioned that holding the talks in Turkey was a “victory” in itself, as a result of Turkey “is our buddy and associate.” The sooner in-person rounds of talks had been held in Belarus, Russia’s closest ally.

However Turkey, whereas a NATO member, has additionally been decided to keep up ties with Russia, refusing to affix sanctions in opposition to Moscow and sustaining direct air connections to a number of Russian cities. Mr. Erdogan mentioned that when President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine had been prepared to fulfill in particular person, Turkey could be able to host them.

In video footage of the assembly distributed by Turkey, the 2 delegations couldn’t be seen shaking fingers, with the Russians arriving after the Ukrainians had been already seated. However they made small discuss in Russian, as when Mr. Arakhamia informed the pinnacle of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, that the little bottle on the desk was hand sanitizer; Mr. Medinsky’s response was not totally audible, however some Russian media mentioned he quipped, “Vodka, I believed.”

The Russian delegates wore fits, whereas the Ukrainians had been dressed extra casually, one in a short-sleeve shirt, one other in army fatigues.

The delegates gathered on the grounds of the Dolmabahce Palace in central Istanbul. It was the place Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of recent Turkey, died in 1938, and it’s now utilized in half by Mr. Erdogan as one among his workplaces when he’s in Istanbul.

Additionally within the room as Mr. Erdogan spoke was Roman Abramovich, the Russian enterprise tycoon who’s reported to have shuttled between Moscow and Kyiv to attempt to push the talks ahead. Studies have emerged that he and several other Ukrainian negotiators had been victims of a possible poisoning after struggling signs together with impaired imaginative and prescient at earlier rounds of talks. Mr. Abramovich sat subsequent to Ibrahim Kalin, Mr. Erdogan’s spokesman.

Safak Timur contributed reporting.

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