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Russia-Ukraine war: Kyiv working with Israel and Turkey to 'mediate' talks

Details for the talks have yet to be finalised as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine
A Ukrainian soldier holds a light anti-tank weapon that was used to destroy a Russian armoured personal carrier in Irpin, north of Kyiv, on 12 March 2022 (AFP)

Ukraine said it was working with Israel and Turkey as mediators to finalise the framework and location for potential peace talks with Russia, a Ukrainian presidential adviser said on Sunday. 

Speaking on national television, Mykhailo Podolya, special advisor to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, said discussions were still ongoing and yet to be finalised. 

"When it is worked out, there will be a meeting. I think it won't take long for us to get there," Podolyak said.

On Saturday, Ukraine denied reports that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had urged Kyiv to cave in to Russia's demands. 

The denial followed a three-hour meeting between Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, at Ukraine's behest.

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"I believe (Bennett) can play an important role, because Israel is a country with a lot of history and parallels (to our situation), as well as having a large migration of Jews from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus," Zelensky said in a briefing.

Podolyak's announcement comes after Russian and Ukrainian officials met in the Turkish town of Antalya on Thursday. 

Last Thursday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba held talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Both ministers discussed steps to end Russia's war in Ukraine, with Kuleba insisting on a trilateral meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Talks in Jerusalem 

Moscow has said little about Bennett's talks with Putin but issued terms including that Ukraine recognises Crimea as Russian and Russian-backed breakaway regions as independent.

Kyiv said it will refuse to cede any territory to Russia. 

Zelensky said that he would welcome talks in Jerusalem and believed Israel would be able to provide Ukraine with appropriate security guarantees. 

"I said to (Bennett) that at present it's not constructive to hold meetings in Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus.

"These are not the places where we [the leaders of the involved countries] can agree to stop the war...Do I consider Israel, Jerusalem in particular, to be such a place? I think the answer is yes."

Citing the time that Putin and Zelensky have invested in speaking to - and through - Bennett, a senior official in Israel's Foreign Ministry, Simona Halperin, said in a radio interview on Thursday that the mediation efforts "certainly, certainly have a chance of succeeding".

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