On October 7, a meeting between the US Department of State's Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov took place in Belgrade. However, the details of the meeting had remained unknown- until now.
The publication LB.ua, citing sources in diplomatic circles, has reported that the meeting itself consisted of three elements. First, lunch; further, a tête-à-tête, which lasted more than an hour; and, finally, communication with members of their delegations.
During the negotiations, Surkov tried to focus on the details, while Volker was interested in two key points: first, if Russia was ready to move in principle toward a settlement in the Donbas; and second, the timeframe, e.g. before or after the election of the Russian President scheduled for March 2018.
According to sources, Surkov practically verbatim said that "Putin would like to look like a peacemaker." However, there is no time for understanding now.Putin's aide also said that the Russian Federation supports the holding of a peacekeeping mission in the Donbas, but has a number of caveats regarding the mandate. Thus, Russia insists that the activities of peacekeepers should not extend to the border.
As a counterbalance to this, the presence at the Mission, in one form or another, of a police component is especially important from the point of view of establishing (after the withdrawal of troops and weapons) a "transition period".
According to LB.ua’s sources, Surkov and Volker’s Belgrade meeting ended without reaching any specific agreements. It is assumed that before the next meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for early November though the exact date and place are discussed, the Russian side will concretize its vision for the proposals of the Western partners, in particular regarding the mandate of peacekeepers.
Kurt Volker will visit Kyiv on October 27th.