Russia says de-escalation not a ceasefire; talks have long way to go

Russia's presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 3, 2021. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

March 29 (Reuters) - Russia's promise to scale down military operations around Kyiv and northern Ukraine does not represent a ceasefire and talks on a formal agreement with Kyiv have a long way to go, Moscow's lead negotiator in peace talks said on Tuesday.

Russian negotiators earlier on Tuesday gave an undertaking to sharply scale back military activity around Ukraine's capital Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv, in the most tangible sign yet of progress towards a peace deal. read more

"This is not a ceasefire but this is our aspiration, gradually to reach a de-escalation of the conflict at least on these fronts," Vladimir Medinsky, head of the Russian team, said in an interview with the TASS news agency.

Medinsky said Russia had made a second major de-escalatory step by agreeing to a possible meeting of the two countries' presidents at the same moment that a peace agreement was initialled.

"However, to prepare such an agreement on a mutually acceptable basis, we still have a long way to go," he said.

Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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