Russia’s foreign minister appears to have ended any immediate prospect of peace talks over the war in Ukraine, days after Russia’s president said he was ready to negotiate.
President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that the Kremlin was “ready to negotiate with all parties concerned on acceptable solutions”, while blaming Kyiv for the lack of diplomatic progress so far.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky quickly responded by saying Mr Putin ‘needs to get back to reality’adding: “Russia does not want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility”.
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On Monday, Ukraine’s stance appeared to soften, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba saying that while Ukraine wants to win the war next year, diplomacy still has an important role.
Mr Kuleba suggested a summit before the end of February hosted by the United Nations, although he said Russia should only be invited after being prosecuted for war crimes in an international tribunal.
But late Monday night, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared to end any plans for peace talks.
He told the Tass news agency: “Our proposals for the demilitarization and denazification of the territories controlled by the [Ukrainian] regime, the elimination of threats to the security of Russia emanating from there, including our new lands, are well known to the enemy.
“The point is simple: fulfill them for your own good. Otherwise, the matter will be decided by the Russian military.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also responded to Kuleba’s words with disapproval, telling state news agency RIA Novosti that Russia “has never followed the conditions set by other – only our own common sense”.
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It has been 10 months since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and with no serious peace talks in months, there is little end in sight.
Millions of Ukrainians have fled their country and millions of those who remain are without power due to Russian attacks on critical infrastructure.
But Ukraine says it won’t negotiate until all Russian soldiers leave its territory, while Russia insists it will keep fighting until it achieves its goals .
Mr Putin said he believed the military action “defended our national interests…protected our citizens” and that any negotiations had to take place on his terms.
Ukraine says that would be unacceptable, as it would amount to pandering to Russian demands and agreeing to Mr. Putin’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.