(Reuters) -The Kremlin said that peace talks between Russia and Ukraine may get under way in Turkey on Tuesday and it was important that they would take place face-to-face, after what it described as a lack of major progress in negotiations so far.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a telephone call on Sunday for Istanbul to host the talks, which Ankara hopes will lead to a ceasefire in Ukraine.
Turkey said the talks could begin as early as Monday, but Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that was unlikely as the negotiators would only be arriving in Turkey on Monday.
“While we cannot and will not speak about progress at the talks, the fact that they continuing to take place in person is important, of course,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
“We are adhering to a policy of not disclosing any information about the talks, which we think could only hurt the negotiation process.”
Peskov added that no major progress had been made in the talks themselves, or on the idea of a potential meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“Unfortunately we cannot see any substantial achievements or breakthroughs (in the talks) so far,” he said.
In separate comments, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a meeting between the two leaders would be counterproductive if it were held now. He said they should meet once the sides achieve progress.
“A meeting between Putin and Zelenskiy is needed as soon as we will be close to resolving all key issues,” Lavrov said in an interview with Serbian media.
Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.
Reporting by Reuters
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