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Italy ready to guarantee Ukraine’s neutral status

Italy is actively seeking to broker peace in Ukraine and is willing to become a guarantor of the country’s neutral status, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Saturday. The diplomat made these remarks after meeting his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov in Baku.

“Italy is working non-stop to put this conflict to an end through sanctions and without ever giving up the diplomatic channels. The continuation of negotiations between the parties and a humanitarian truce are priorities,” Di Maio stated, acknowledging that “progress” was made during Russia-Ukraine talks in Turkey earlier this week.

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Rome is ultimately ready to become a guarantor of Ukraine’s potential neutral status, which would see the country avoiding alignment with any military blocs, Di Maio added. Establishing such status and ensuring that Kiev never joins the US-led NATO military alliance have been among the key demands raised by Moscow.

The Italian government is willing to contribute to the peace process and to guarantee the neutrality of Ukraine.

Moscow launched a large-scale offensive against its neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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