A member of the US government has assured Reuters that the intelligence services believe that the symptoms suffered by the Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich and the Ukrainian negotiators were due to an “environmental factor” and not to poisoning.
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The American newspaper The Wall Street Journal had reported that Abramovich and the negotiators suffered symptoms of poisoning such as “red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling of the skin on the face and hands.” Abramovich was traveling earlier this month between Lviv, Moscow and other capitals in his mediation efforts between the Russian and Ukrainian governments. According to the WSJ, he met in kyiv with Ukrainian negotiators affected by the same symptoms.
The group of researchers Bellingcat also confirmed the news, and in a thread posted on Twitter they explained that, in addition to Abramovich, “three members of the delegation who attended the peace talks between Ukraine and Russia on the night of March 3-4 2022 experienced symptoms of chemical weapons poisoning.”
The source quoted by Reuters limits itself to affirming that the information handled by the intelligence services indicates that the cause of these symptoms “was environmental” and “not poison”. The source spoke on condition of anonymity to the agency and has declined to provide further details.
In what seemed like an effort not to further heat up the atmosphere before the new round of negotiations on Tuesday in Istanbul, for the moment the Russians and Ukrainians have officially stayed out of both the WSJ news and the subsequent version of the services. American intelligence.
Moscow is silent and the official Russian media have not echoed the information. Mykhailo Podoliak, Zelensky’s advisor and one of the main Ukrainian negotiators, has been cautious when asked about it in the media.
“All members of the negotiating team are working normally. In the field of information, there are many speculations and conspiracy theories”, Podoliak said according to statements collected by Ukrinform.
On Twitter and Telegram, where he is normally blunt in his anti-Russian remarks, Podoliak has not mentioned the matter.
Russia and Ukraine, again face to face
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators resume face-to-face negotiations in Turkey on Tuesday. It will be the first face-to-face meeting they have had since March 10, when their last conversation in person failed. Since then, Russia and Ukraine have only held talks via video conference. The meeting in Istanbul has been preceded by the shocking news about the possible poisoning published by the wall street journal.
The new meeting will take place this Tuesday at the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul at 10:30 Moscow time and the main objective will be to achieve a ceasefire. The Turkish president, Tayyip Erdogan, has assured that he will hold prior bilateral talks with the two delegations.
Before their meeting, the Russians and the Ukrainians have re-established their priorities and have shown a willingness to dialogue.
“Be that as it may, I see that there are opportunities for an agreement, as our Western partners begin to understand the serious mistakes made over many years, although perhaps, for understandable reasons, they do not say it out loud,” said the Foreign Minister. Russian, Sergei Lavrov.
As reported by the Financial Times, Russia has stopped demanding Ukraine “denazification” of the country, one of the main arguments used to justify the invasion of Ukraine: Russia insists on false claims that Ukraine is a “neo-Nazi” country where “it seems that there is a genocide” (something they maintain without evidence) against the population that speaks Russian.
Furthermore, according to the FT citing sources close to the negotiation, Moscow would be willing for Ukraine to join the EU if it maintains its neutral military status (it does not join NATO).
The Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, granted this Sunday several interviews in which he was willing to accept a neutral status in exchange for security guarantees from several countries. In addition, he assured that the question of the recognition of Crimea and the status of Donbas was an issue that should be “addressed and resolved”.
Day 33 of the invasion of Ukraine: