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Sunday, July 14, 2024

West secretly urging Russia-Ukraine talks – Lavrov

RUSSIAN Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov has said that multiple Western leaders had approached him about potential negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine, saying the Kremlin is ready for dialogue so long as it respects Moscow’s core interests.

Speaking alongside his Belarusian counterpart, Sergey Aleinik, on Friday, Lavrov told reporters that some Western powers were increasingly interested in a negotiated settlement, though declined to single out any country by name.

“I do not want to and I have no right to name names, but a number of high-level, well-known leaders of Western countries, including one specific Western leader, a very well-known one, several times… at least via three different channels of communication, sent signals as to why don’t we meet and talk about what to do with Ukraine and with European security,” he said.

Lavrov added that Russia is “always ready to discuss these issues seriously,” but suggested that Kiev has been the unwilling party, saying “We have never rejected the negotiations and this question should not be addressed to us.”

However, the foreign minister stressed that any talks would have to account for “Russia’s legitimate interests” and must mean “putting an end to attempts to build [one’s] own security at the expense of others,” referring to Ukraine’s efforts to join the NATO bloc.

Though Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met for multiple rounds of talks in the weeks after Moscow launched its military operation, the discussions soon collapsed.

Kiev has shown little interest in further dialogue in the months since, with President Vladimir Zelensky even signing a decree barring any talks with the current Kremlin leadership.

During a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) earlier this month, Lavrov recalled that the two sides had essentially reached a peace agreement following talks in Istanbul in March 2022, noting that senior Ukrainian MP David Arakhamia, who led his country’s delegation, had recently confirmed this.

A key political ally of Zelensky, Arakhamia said that Russia’s primary goal had been to pressure Ukraine to accept neutrality and abandon plans to join NATO.

Kiev did not trust Moscow to keep its word and wanted “security guarantees” from third parties, Arakhamia said, also pointing out then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s role in discouraging the talks.

Western leaders have so far said little about new peace talks in their public comments, though recent media reports have indicated that US and European officials have quietly broached the issue behind the scenes.

According to US officials cited by NBC, Washington is now “worried that Ukraine is running out of forces” and cannot succeed on the battlefield, reportedly prompting new interest in negotiations.

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