KYIV: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said a "business-like spirit" is emerging at talks with Ukraine that are now focused on a neutral status for the war-torn country.
"A neutral status is being seriously discussed in connection with security guarantees," Lavrov said Wednesday on Russian channel RBK TV.
"There are concrete formulations that in my view are close to being agreed." He didn't elaborate but said "the business-like spirit" starting to surface in the talks "gives hope that we can agree on this issue." he said.
Russia's chief negotiator in the latest round of talks with Ukraine, which started Monday and are set to continue Wednesday, said the sides are discussing a possible compromise idea for a future Ukraine with a smaller, non-aligned military.
"A whole range of issues tied with the size of Ukraine's army is being discussed," Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said, according to Russian news agencies.
There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials. It's not clear how such an option would work if the future Ukrainian military remains hostile to Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that the country realizes that it can't join NATO. Ukraine's bid to join the Western military alliance has been a sore point for Moscow.