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Russia and Ukraine ‘close to agreeing’ on neutral status, says Sergei Lavrov

A peace deal under which Ukraine abandons its Nato aspirations in return for Russian withdrawal and western security guarantees appeared to inch closer on Wednesday even as Vladimir Putin’s troops were accused of killing people queueing for bread in a northern Ukrainian city.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, suggested talks were making progress despite continued bloodshed and fears from some EU leaders that the Kremlin was toying with Kyiv.

“The negotiations are not easy for obvious reasons,” Lavrov told RBC News. “But nevertheless, there is some hope of reaching a compromise. “Neutral status is now being seriously discussed seriously along, of course, with security guarantees. This is what is now being discussed at the talks. There are absolutely specific wordings and, in my view, the sides are close to agreeing on them.”

Lavrov’s comments risked being undermined by a less than conciliatory televised appearance by Putin with his ministers later on Wednesday in which the Russian president insulted domestic opponents of his war and condemned the west for seeking to destroy his country.

“Any people, and especially the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish the true patriots from the scum and the traitors, and to spit them out like a midge that accidentally flew into their mouths,” he said. “I am convinced that this natural and necessary self-cleansing of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to meet any challenge.

“If the west thinks that Russia will step back, it does not understand Russia,” he said.

In a video address in the early hours of Wednesday, Zelenskiy had also suggested that there was room for compromise, with Russia taking up “more realistic” positions. “Any war ends with an agreement,” he said.

A harmony bargain under which Ukraine leaves its Nato desires as a trade-off for Russian withdrawal and western security ensures seemed to inch nearer on Wednesday even as Vladimir Putin’s soldiers were blamed for killing individuals queueing for bread in a northern Ukrainian city.

Russia’s unfamiliar priest, Sergei Lavrov, and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, recommended talks were gaining ground in spite of proceeded with slaughter and fears from some EU chiefs that the Kremlin was playing with Kyiv.

“The arrangements are difficult for clear reasons,” Lavrov told RBC News. “However, in any case, there is some desire for arriving at a split the difference. “Unbiased status is presently being truly talked about truly along, obviously, with security ensures. This is the thing is currently being examined at the discussions. There are totally explicit phrasings and, in my view, the sides are near settling on them.”

Lavrov’s remarks gambled being subverted by a not exactly placating broadcast appearance by Putin with his priests later on Wednesday where the Russian president offended homegrown adversaries of his conflict and sentenced the west for trying to annihilate his country.

“Any individuals, and particularly the Russian public, can continuously recognize the genuine nationalists from the filth and the double crossers, and to let them out like a midge that incidentally flew into their mouths,” he said. “I’m persuaded that this regular and important self-purging of society will just reinforce our country, our fortitude, attachment and preparation to address any difficulty.

“Assuming the west figures that Russia will venture back, it doesn’t get Russia,” he said.

In a video address in the early long stretches of Wednesday, Zelenskiy had additionally recommended that there was space for split the difference, with Russia taking up “more practical” positions. “Any conflict closes with an arrangement,” he said.

Slovenia’s state leader, Janez Janša, who visited Zelenskiy in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday evening, let the Guardian know that a “draft system” was being chipped away at, with Ukraine’s leader ready to change the country’s constitution to drop any expectations of Nato enrollment.

Janša, who had headed out via train to Kyiv with the top state leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic, said he dreaded Russia was simply looking to “put the emphasis on a side theater, and pictures from the dealings, not the photos from the killing grounds”. “An old stunt”, he said.

In any case, he framed what he accepted was the Ukrainian chief’s way to deal with the continuous harmony exchanges following their discussions and said it offered some expect enduring harmony if a Russian truce could be won as an initial step.

“Zelenskiy is talking about making a few concessions”, he said. “There is an article in the constitution of Ukraine where Ukrainians are looking for Nato and European enrollment.

“On the off chance that you are paying attention to President Zelenskiy, he is ready to leave looking for the Nato participation, in the event that there is EU enrollment ensured – guaranteed as well as ensured – and assuming there are some security ensures on the table.”

Zelenskiy portrayed the contention in a location to the US Congress on Wednesday, importuning Joe Biden’s organization to accomplish more on impressive approvals, urge US organizations to quit exchanging Russia and increment the stock of military weapons, specifically by offering warrior jets.

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