Turkey: New Russian-Ukrainian peace talks begin
Erdogan has said both Ukraine and Russia have "valid concerns" and urged them to "put a stop to this tragedy."
On Tuesday, new talks between Russia and Ukraine began in Istanbul in an attempt to solve the crisis, which has reached its second month.
The peace talks are taking place in Istanbul's Dolmabahce Palace, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the negotiators on Tuesday morning, saying both Ukraine and Russia have "valid concerns", urging them to "put a stop to this tragedy."
"The two parties have legitimate concerns, it's possible to reach a solution acceptable to the international community," Erdogan said.
"It's up to the two parties to put an end to this tragedy," he insisted, adding that the "extension of the conflict is in no one's interest".
The negotiations are taking take place as Russia declares its intention to refocus its efforts on consolidating terrain held in the country's east in the Donbass area.
“We still have to fight, we have to endure,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nighttime video address to the nation. “We can’t express our emotions now. We can’t raise expectations, simply so that we don’t burn out.”
The Russian negotiators arrived in Istanbul on Monday, where a previous round of discussions at the level of foreign ministers failed to generate any results on March 10. The discussions were then carried out via video conference.
Before the meetings, Zelensky stated that his country is ready to be neutral, as Moscow has wanted, in statements that could give the talks a boost.
Over the weekend, Zelensky suggested that a compromise on "the delicate subject of Donbas" would be conceivable. It's unclear how that squares with his assertion that "Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond debate."
Russia has long insisted that Ukraine abandon any hopes of joining NATO, which it regards as a danger. For his part, Zelensky has emphasized that any agreement must include Ukraine's security assurances.
Zelensky has stated that any neutrality agreement must be put to a referendum, but only after Russian forces have withdrawn.
Later, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba stated on his Ministry's website that Zelensky had "given very clear instructions to our delegation. We do not bargain for people, territory or sovereignty."