Despite images of bodies found in the Ukrainian town of Bucha stalling the process, Russia and Ukraine are willing to move forward with talks, a Turkish official said to AFP on Friday. “Both Russia and Ukraine are willing to hold talks in Turkey,” the official said, “but they are still far apart on a common text.”
According to the official, “some issues pending” include the status of the Donbas and Crimea regions, as well as security guarantees, and no date has been set for the next round of negotiations.
Turkey has been mediating for an end to the conflict since hosting talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators last week. The Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers could meet in two weeks, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, but images from Bucha last weekend have cast a shadow on the peace talks, according to the Turkish government.
Since the Istanbul talks, Russia has accused Ukrainian negotiators of changing their demands, claiming that Kyiv is not interested in ending the conflict. In exchange, Ukraine urged Russia to demonstrate its willingness to engage in dialogue by reducing “hostility.”
Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said in televised comments on Friday that Ukraine and Russia are “constantly” holding peace talks online, but the mood has been affected by events such as the deaths of civilians in the town of Bucha.
Officials in Ukraine accuse Russian troops in Bucha, near Kyiv, of carrying out extrajudicial killings. The deaths in Bucha were a “monstrous forgery” staged by the West to discredit Moscow, which denies targeting civilians in Ukraine.