By Anthony Marcus, special correspondent in Kyiv, for Eurasia Business News – March 3, 2022

Representatives of Russia and Ukraine at the second round of talks on Thursday agreed to jointly provide humanitarian corridors in places of the most fierce fighting. During the evacuation of civilians in these areas, the principle of a temporary ceasefire was approved by both parties.

As Russian Presidential Aide Vladimir Medinsky, head of the Russian delegation, told journalists, the parties managed to find mutual understanding on a number of issues. At the same time, Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine, stated that the only agreed issue was precisely the humanitarian corridors.

The second round of negotiations lasted half as long as the first – two and a half hours.

Humanitarian corridors

Russia and Ukraine agreed on the possibility of opening humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians and the delivery of medicines and food to the places of the most fierce fighting.

Representatives of the military departments, according to Vladimir Medinsky, also agreed on “a possible temporary cessation of hostilities in the sector of the humanitarian corridor for the period of the exit of the civilian population.” Podolyak confirmed that the fire would stop only in these areas.

The parties have reached an understanding on the joint provision of humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of the civilian population, as well as for the delivery of medicines and food to the places of the most fierce fighting, with the possibility, I emphasize, of a temporary ceasefire for the period when the evacuation will be carried out in the sectors where it is carried out “, said Mikhail Podolyak after the talks.

In the near future, the parties will organize special communication channels for organizing corridors and work out logistics procedures.

Political aspects

The parties discussed not only humanitarian problems, but also “the issue of a future political settlement of the conflict,” said the Russian diplomats. They did not disclose further details.

The Ukrainian side, according to Mikhail Podolyak, did not get the results that they expected, and the only solution concerned humanitarian corridors.

Moscow wants Ukraine’s neutrality to be restored, the country to be demilitarized and not to join NATO.

A new round of negotiations

In the near future, a third meeting will take place, which may also take place on the territory of Belarus. As Mikhail Podolyak specified, it will be organized early next week.

According to the results of the coming third round of negotiations, as Leonid Slutsky, head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, said, agreements can be reached that will need to be consolidated at the highest level and ratified in parliaments. 

Background statements

Shortly before the completion of the talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made public statements.

Putin said at a meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation that the Russian operation is proceeding according to plan and “in strict accordance with the schedule,” and “all the tasks set” are being successfully carried out.  The Russian President explained the goals of the special operation launched in Ukraine, saying that  troops “are fighting for Russia, for a peaceful life for the citizens of Donbass, for the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.” [Russian troops are fighting] “so that no “anti-Russia”, created by the West for years right at our borders, threatens us, including with nuclear weapons, as it has been recently“, added Vladimir Putin.

The Russian leader also announced payments to the families of the dead soldiers amounting to 5 million rubles (41,000 euros) in addition of the current legislation, and for the wounded – 3 million rubles (24,000 euros). Vladimir Putin added that Moscow will prosecute in Ukraine those who have committed crimes against the civilian population and Russian citizens.

Volodymyr Zelensky, in an interview with foreign media, repeated that he was ready to discuss “all issues” with Putin, including the problems of the status of the Russian language in Ukraine and the status of the republics of Donbass. At the same time, the Ukrainian president appealed to the United States and the European Union with a call to declare the country’s airspace a no-fly zone or provide Ukrainians with aviation, and also proposed including Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz among the future guarantors of Kyiv’s security.

Russia launched a military operation at 04:00 in the morning of February 24, with the official goal to “demilitarize Ukraine”, remove the Ukrainian government and protect the right of Russian leaving in Eastern Ukraine. In a televised address to the Russians, President Vladimir Putin said that circumstances “require decisive and immediate action from us, the people’s republics of Donbass  have asked for help.” 

Ukraine and its Western partners sees the Russian military operation as an invasion and imposed strong strong sanctions against Russian state officials, banks, companies and oligarchs.

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