Delegations from Ukraine and Russia have arrived in the Turkish city of Istanbul to begin a new round of peace talks from Tuesday aimed at ending the ongoing war.
The in-person talks slated to begin at 10.30 a.m. (local time, about 1 p.m. IST), will be hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Dolmabahce Presidential Working Office in Istabul's Besiktas district, reports Xinhua news agency.
While Russian delegation has settled in the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel, the Ukrainian delegation has checked in the Shangri-La Bosphorus, both very close to each other in the district.
Travelling by Road
Media reports said the arrival of the Ukrainian delegation had been postponed to evening hours due to the closure of their country's airspace and some logistical problems.
According to the NTV broadcaster, the Ukrainian delegates had to go to a neighbouring country by road to fly to Istanbul.
"We will have a short meeting with the delegations tomorrow morning," Erdogan said at a press conference after a cabinet meeting in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday.
So far, Russia and Ukraine have held three rounds of in-person talks in Belarus, and their fourth session was in a video conference format.
Among other things, Russia is demanding that Ukraine abandon any intention of joining NATO, an issue Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is willing to compromise on.
Status of Crimea
Other issues expected to be discussed include the fate of separatist-held regions in Ukraine's east, as well as the status of Crimea, which was formally annexed by Russia in 2014.
Turkey, meanwhile, has increasingly accelerated its diplomatic efforts in the international arena, reiterating its policy that it is ready to play a mediator role for lasting peace in the region.
In a phone call on Sunday, Erdogan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, that a ceasefire and peace between Moscow and Kiev must be achieved as soon as possible, and the humanitarian situation in the region should be improved.
Erdogan repeated that Turkey would continue to contribute in every possible way during this process.
The "phone traffic" that he has been conducting with Putin and Zelensky is progressing in a positive direction, the Turkish leader said on Monday.
Turkey has been exerting significant efforts to resolve the crisis through agreement and dialogue, he said.
Regarding the talks, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that "we are not trading people, land or sovereignty".
"The minimum programme will be humanitarian questions, and the maximum programme is reaching an agreement on a ceasefire," the BBC quoted the Minister as saying in a televised address on Monday.
But Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said that he doubted there would be any breakthrough.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said talks so far had not yielded any substantial progress, but it was important they continued in person. He declined to give more information.
A senior US State Department official cast similar doubt on hopes for progress, saying Putin did not appear ready to make compromises to end the war.