Russia is no longer requesting Ukraine be “denazified” and is prepared to let Kyiv join the EU if it remains militarily non-aligned as part of continuing ceasefire negotiations, according to four people briefed on the discussions.
Moscow and Kyiv are discussing a break in hostilities as part of a possible deal that would involve Ukraine abandoning its drive for NATO membership in exchange for security guarantees and the prospect of joining the EU, the people said under the condition of anonymity because the matter is not yet finalized.
The draft ceasefire document does not contain any discussion of three of Russia’s initial core demands – “denazification”, “demilitarization”, and legal protection for the Russian language in Ukraine – the people added. Envoys from both sides are to meet in Istanbul on Tuesday in a fourth round of peace talks designed to end President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The concessions on Russia’s side come as its month-long ground offensive has largely stalled as a result of fiercer Ukrainian resistance than expected and Russian operational deficiencies. But Ukraine and its western backers remain skeptical of Putin’s intentions, worrying that the Russian president could be using the talks as a smokescreen to replenish his exhausted forces and plan a fresh offensive.
In other developments:
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Five more stories in the news
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4. Middle East ministers hold talks in Israel on ‘common enemies’ Foreign ministers from across the Middle East have met for a summit in the Negev desert, the first such meeting to take place on Israeli soilas they try to co-ordinate their response to regional security threats including Iran.
5. Will Smith under ‘formal review’ by Academy The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has launched a “formal review” after actor Will Smith struck comedian Chris Rock on stage during the Oscars awards show. Rock had made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has a shaved head and has spoken publicly about her hair loss.
Shanghai authorities have divided China’s biggest city into two zonesas it locks one area down amid the struggles to contain an outbreak of Covid-19.
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The day ahead
Joe Biden hosts Singapore PM The US president is set to welcome Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to the White House on Tuesday. The pair will discuss the war in Ukraine as well as plans to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific. (Reuters)
Japan unemployment figures February joblessness data will shed light on the country’s recovery from Covid-19.
Results Earnings are expected from the Bank of China, Bellway, Boku and Ten Entertainment.
What else we’re reading and listening to
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Women at the Start Are you just at the beginning of your career or do you fancy a change of job? This special report is full of tips for new recruits. It also includes advice for women starting their own business and a guide to reverse mentoring schemes.
War with Russia? Finland has a plan for that What the Nordic nation calls its strategy of “comprehensive security” offers an example of how countries can create rigorous, society-wide systems to protect themselves ahead of time – planning not just for a potential invasion, but also for natural disasters or cyber attacks or a pandemic.
Secret schools keep Afghan girls learning Rule-breaking teachers are defying the Taliban to provide lessons to women and girls. Together, volunteers from a network of three schools, with 18 teachers and more than 200 students aged from 10 to 18, take part in the program that serves many poor or disadvantaged neighborhoods.
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