Russia’s bloody war in Ukraine began its third week on Thursday as top diplomats from Moscow and Kyiv met for high-level peace talks that were aimed at ending the fighting, but instead showed how far apart the two sides still are.
The foreign ministers of both countries met in Turkey in the most significant talks since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. But as was the case in two prior rounds of talks, no real progress came from the negotiations.
The peace talks were held in Antalya, a coastal city in southern Turkey near the Mediterranean Sea about 225 miles southwest of the capital Ankara. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also participated in Thursday’s meeting.
While both sides agreed to continue talking, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters after the summit that a permanent cease-fire remains out of reach.
“I will be ready to meet again in this format if there are prospects for a substantial discussion and for seeking solutions,” Kuleba said, according to The New York Times.
“We are ready for diplomacy, we are looking for diplomatic solutions, but as long as there are none we will … defend our land, our people from Russian aggression,” he added according to the Kyiv Post.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said the two sides will meet “again soon” in Belarus and suggested that a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was possible.
“President Putin has never refused to hold contacts, we only want to be sure that contacts aren’t held for the sake of contacts but seek to formalize specific agreements,” he said according to the Russian state-run TASS news agency. “We touched upon this issue today, Mr. Kuleba brought it up and I reminded him that we always stand for meetings provided that we can achieve added value and resolve issues.”