This story has been updated with remarks from the ministers. Talks between the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine took place on the sidelines of a diplomatic summit in Turkey on Thursday. An official photograph showed Russia’s Sergey Lavrov flanked by two advisers sitting across from his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and his officials. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu sat at the head of the table during the first high-level talks between the two countries since Russia invaded Ukraine two weeks ago. Cavusoglu said the aim of the meeting is to pave the way for a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents that would be facilitated by Turkey’s president, the AP reports. After the meeting, Kuleba said Moscow is not ready to offer a ceasefire. He said: "They seek Ukraine’s surrender. This is not going to happen."
Kuleba said, however, that the two sides had agreed to seek a solution to humanitarian issues in Ukraine and he would be ready to meet again "if there are prospects for a substantial discussion and seeking solutions," the BBC reports. "I'm ready to continue this engagement with the purpose of ending the war in Ukraine, stopping the suffering of Ukrainian civilians and liberating our territories from the Russian occupying force," Kuleba said. He said Lavrov did not respond to a request for a 24-hour ceasefire and security guarantees for humanitarian corridors.
At a separate press conference, Lavrov denied that a ceasefire had even been discussed and said the talks in Turkey were no substitute for the lower-level meeting in Belarus, which he described as the "real, main diplomatic track," reports Reuters. He said Russia that in response to sanctions, is working to "ensure that we never again depend on the West in those areas of our life which have a significant meaning for our people." Cavosoglu, the Turkish minister, described the talks as "difficult." NATO member Turkey has positioned itself as a neutral party, seeking to facilitate negotiations between the warring sides. (Lavrov also slammed "pathetic outcries" in the West over the bombing of a maternity hospital in Ukraine.)