David Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian negotiating team in talks with Russia, said the Russian side has responded positively to Ukrainian positions on several issues and there is a possibility of "direct consultations" between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, something he said had been facilitated in part by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"We announced our Ukrainian position in Istanbul," Arakhamia said in nationally televised remarks. "And the Russian Federation has given an official answer to all these positions, which is that they accept this position, except for the issue of Crimea."
Ukrainian officials have outlined their vision of a roadmap to a potential truce, which would include possible neutral status for Ukraine backed by a broad alliance of security guarantors.
The status of Crimea -- annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014 -- has been a sticking point in potential negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine and most of the international community consider the peninsula to be illegally occupied. The Kremlin consistently says the status of Crimea is settled.
The Ukrainian side said there had been agreement to suspend negotiations on the status of Crimea for 15 years, but the Russian side has not confirmed, and the Kremlin has publicly reiterated its position Crimea is part of Russia.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said there was no official confirmation of those positions in writing, according to Arakhamia.
However, Arakhamia added: "Orally, as of yesterday, in a video conference, we heard that the Russian side does not object to such [Ukrainian] positions."
Arakhamia held out the possibility of a meeting between Putin and Zelensky, saying, "The drafts of the documents were sufficiently developed to hold direct consultations between the two leaders, the presidents of Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Therefore, our task now is to quickly prepare the final stage not of the document itself, but of the issues we have already touched upon, and to prepare for a possible meeting of the presidents."
Arakhamia added: "Yesterday, Mr. Erdogan called both us and Vladimir Putin. He also allegedly confirmed for his part they are ready to organize a meeting in the near future. Neither the date nor the place is known. But we believe that with a high probability it will be in Istanbul or Ankara, that is, in Turkey."
The possibility of a role for China as a potential security guarantor for Ukraine appears to be credible, according to Arakhamia.
Asked about the status of talks with China on the matter, Arakhamia said: "We are negotiating through diplomatic channels. The state of negotiations with China is probably the least ready compared to the countries that are now actively helping us, and we keep in touch twice a day. With China, it's getting a little harder."