Ukrainian aide: Russia no longer asking for surrender

A senior aide to Ukraine’s president says that Russia has softened its stance in the talks over a possible settlement.

Ihor Zhovkva, a deputy chief of staff to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Tuesday that the talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives have become “more constructive” and Russia has changed tone and stopped airing demands for Ukraine to surrender — something Russia had insisted upon during earlier stages of talks.

Three rounds of talks in Belarus earlier this month have been followed by video calls between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, including the one on Tuesday.

Zhovkva said that Ukrainian representatives feel “moderately optimistic” after the talks, adding that it would be necessary for Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet to make major progress.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who spoke to Russian negotiators via video link on Monday and Tuesday, described the talks as “very difficult and viscous.”

He said that “there are fundamental contradictions,” but added that “there is certainly room for compromise.”

The talks via video link are expected to continue Wednesday. They follow three round of negotiations in Belarus that have failed to produce any visible progress.