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Talks in Ottoman palace, partial Russian withdrawal. What next?

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Talks in Turkey – both sides played down expectations

from Edward Steen. Vienna, March 29, 2022

Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul

The focus of attention is now on the results of brief (and reportedly rather icy) talks, just concluded, between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in an Ottoman Palace on the Bosphorus. There is reputedly “cautious optimism”. General Alexander Fomin, Russia’s deputy defence minister, told reporters that Russia would reduce its military activity around Kyiv and Chernihiv in light of the “constructive” negotiations with Ukraine. A decision had been made to” radically, by a large margin, reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions,” Fomin told reporters.

AP reported that there had been withdrawals around Kyiv and Chernihiv. But these were not confirmed by the US. Turkey said Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers were expected to meet in the next phase to set the stage for a meeting between Ukrainian President Zelensky and Vladimir Putin.

Things are evidently not going well for Putin’s war. Ukraine claims a number of victories for Ukrainian armour.

Many questions remain. Such as why the sanctioned Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was there as a middleman? (clue: his superyachts are now docked in Turkey, and his mother is Ukrainian). And was he poisoned in Kiev or not? By whom? Some speculations in the boulevard papers, especially the Daily Mirror in London which also runs an excerpt from live Russian tv showing a former spy Commander Igor Girkin denouncing the invasion as a failure.

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