Russia’s foreign minister appears to have ended any immediate prospect of peace talks on the Ukraine war, days after Russia’s president said he was open to talks.
President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that the Kremlin was “ready to negotiate with everyone involved on acceptable solutions”, while also blaming Kiev for the lack of diplomatic progress so far.
The advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately responded saying Putin “needs to come back to reality”adding: “Russia does not want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility.”
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On Monday, Ukraine’s position appeared to soften, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba saying that while Ukraine wants to win next year’s war, diplomacy still has an important role.
Mr Kuleba proposed a summit before the end of February hosted by the United Nations, although he said Russia should be invited only after it faces prosecution for war crimes at an international court.
But late Monday night, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared to put an end to any plans for peace talks.
He told the Tass agency: “Our proposals for the demilitarization and denazification of the territories under control.” [Ukrainian] regime, eliminating threats to Russia’s security originating from there, including our new countries, is well known to the enemy.
“The point is simple: fill them in for your own good.” Otherwise, the issue will be decided by the Russian army.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also responded disapprovingly to Kuleba’s words, telling state news agency RIA Novosti that Russia “has never followed the conditions set by others – only our own and common sense.”
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It’s been 10 months since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and, with no serious peace talks for months, there is little in sight of the end.
Millions of Ukrainians have fled their country, and millions more are without power due to Russian attacks on critical infrastructure.
But Ukraine says it will not negotiate until every Russian soldier leaves its territory, while Russia insists it will continue to fight until it achieves its goals.
Putin said he believed military action was “the defense of our national interests … protecting our citizens” and that any negotiations must be on his terms.
Ukraine says that would be unacceptable, as it would mean giving in to Russian demands and accepting Putin’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.