Today, at a meeting in Istanbul between Russian and Ukrainian teams, the atmospherics were a great deal more positive and the outlines, however faint, of an overall settlement to this horrendously destructive war began to come into focus.
They included the future of Crimea and the Donbas region, Ukraine’s neutral status, protected by security guarantees, a notable pull-back of Russian forces currently north of Kyiv and even the prospect of a meeting between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Ukrainian side accepted kicking into the long grass the status of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, said of the future of Crimea, whose annexation has never been accepted by either Ukraine or other Western countries: “It was agreed in bilateral format to take a pause for 15 years and conduct bilateral talks on the status of these territories.
“Separately we discussed that during the 15 years while the bilateral talks take place there will be no military hostilities,” he told reporters.