The longer negotiations take, the harder it will be to agree, says Russian Foreign Minister
Moscow is not giving up on the idea of peace talks with Kyiv, but the sides should start negotiations as soon as possible, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“We are not rejecting negotiations; we are not abandoning the negotiations” with Ukraine, Lavrov told the Rossiya 1 channel.
“Those who reject them must understand that the longer this process is delayed, the more difficult it will be to reach an agreement,” he added in an apparent reference to authorities in Kyiv.
Lavrov noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously expressed the same position on the peace talks.
The warring parties have not sat down at the negotiating table since the Istanbul talks in late March. Russia, which was initially optimistic about the peace process, later accused Kyiv of backtracking on progress made in Turkey, saying it had lost faith in Ukrainian negotiators. Russian officials have warned that Moscow’s demands would be more extensive if the talks were to resume.
In recent months, Ukraine has either put forward conditions that Moscow deemed “unrealistic” for the resumption of negotiations, or declared that they could only begin after Russia’s defeat on the battlefield.
Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky has also repeatedly said he wants to discuss the outcome of the conflict directly with President Putin. But Moscow’s position has been that the two leaders should meet only to sign concrete agreements, prepared for them by the negotiators. “No one needs a meeting for the sake of a meeting” Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week.
Ukraine launched a major counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkov region earlier this week after attempts to advance in other areas failed. On Saturday, Russia withdrew its forces from Izuym and some other settlements in the region, saying they would be regrouped “to strengthen efforts in the direction of Donetsk.”
Moscow sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, citing kyiv’s failure to implement the Minsk Accords, intended to give the Donetsk and Luhansk regions special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that kyiv’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to save time and “to create powerful armed forces.”
Russian army explains partial withdrawal
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbas republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked.
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