Alexey Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has said that Moscow and Kiev could sign a peace deal in the coming weeks. Russia attacked the neighboring state on February 24.
“I believe, most likely, we’ll have a peace agreement by May, in early May, or maybe even earlier. We’ll see how it goes,” Arestovich said on Monday, while appearing on political activist Mark Feygin’s YouTube channel. He added that in the best-case scenario, a deal on the withdrawal of Russian troops could even be reached in “one to two weeks.”
The adviser said the fourth round of talks, conducted on Monday via video link, was somewhat more “constructive.” Mykhailo Podolyak, another Ukrainian presidential adviser, said negotiators had taken a “technical pause” until Tuesday for “clarification of individual definitions.”
Negotiators previously agreed on civilian evacuation routes from embattled cities such as Mariupol, a port on the Azov Sea coast completely surrounded by Russian troops and the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). The republic, along with the neighboring Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), broke away from Ukraine following the 2014 coup in Kiev.
In a daily video address on Tuesday, President Zelensky claimed that during 19 days of warfare, Russia has lost 80 warplanes, as well as “hundreds of tanks and thousands of other units of equipment.” The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, reported on Monday evening that it had destroyed nearly 1,300 Ukrainian tanks and other armored vehicles, nearly 600 different artillery pieces, and 145 drones.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it had continued destroying radar stations and weapons depots on Monday. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on Tuesday morning that the Russian ground offensives had “no significant success.”
Both sides have remained tight-lipped about their casualties. Zelensky acknowledged on Saturday that around 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed. Moscow released its last casualty update on March 2, saying that 498 soldiers were killed and nearly 1,600 wounded.
Moscow attacked the neighboring state following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk ceasefire agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to regularize the status of the breakaway regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc.
Kiev says the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two rebellious republics by force.
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