Talks between Russia & Ukraine underway to end military operation – envoy

By Justin Mahlahla and Oleen Ndori

The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Zimbabwe and Malawi, His Excellency Nikolai Krasilnikov says talks between Russian and Ukraine are underway to end his country’s military operation in Kiev.

In an audio interview with ZBC News’ International News Editor Oleen Ndori, Mr Krasilnikov said despite an earlier show of lack of political will by Ukraine, talks between the two countries started today in Belarus and “it is a very good sign. And it demonstrates that there is a common sense on the Ukrainian side. They have to they understand that they have to negotiate the peaceful solution.”

He said with regards to SWIFT disconnecting services to Russia or any other socio-economic sanctions, the Russian side stressed the illegitimate nature of such unilateral measures.

“Be it Russia or Zimbabwe or any other country, such measures can only worsen the already dire situation in Russia-West relations and Western countries were warned that such a line would inevitably be met with counter steps from the Russian side.”

The Russian envoy explained that the 2014 coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014 established a regime that started the aggressive anti-Russian campaign. One of the aspects of such a policy was suppression of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine, he added.

“The breakaway of Crimea from Ukraine and its reintegration into Russia was inevitable. Russian speaking population in Donbass region also protested against such a policy of the Ukrainian regime and opted for self-determination. But the answer of Kiev was aggression. The war started and there were ceasefires, and Minsk package of measures was signed to settle the problem with political means. But in fact, the Ukrainian regime never stopped hostilities and shelling of towns and villages continued. People suffered a lot. They were forced to live in basements and shelters.”

He said Russia’s repeated messages to Kiev and its Western handlers about the need to stop the violence in Donbas and to stop the humiliation of the Russian speaking people, many of them Russian citizens, have fallen on deaf ears.

“So the decision was taken to recognise newly independent states of Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic and to launch the special military operation to prevent the aggression of the regime in Ukraine against these republics and to settle this problem with military means. The current situation could have been avoided by the Ukrainian regime. They demonstrated that the absence of the political will.”

Mr Krasilnikov noted that the current situation could have been avoided, had the Ukrainian regime demonstrated political will earlier.

“It is very important that today negotiations between the Russian delegation and the Ukrainian delegation started in Belarussia. So let us wait and see and we come back to discussing the situation at a later stage,” he said.