Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Photo: TASS)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated his country’s unwillingness to engage with Ukraine on the basis of the peace formula proposed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He alleged that Zelensky’s proposals were “illusory” and said that it was clear that “Kiev is not ready for the dialogue,” RT reported on Thursday, December 29.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba proposed a peace summit in February under the leadership of United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. In an interview with the AP published on Tuesday, Kuleba said that such a peace summit may include Russia only after it faces an international tribunal for its alleged war crimes in Ukraine and agrees to pay remuneration for Ukrainian losses.
Kuleba said that the basis of the summit should be the 10 points proposed by President Zelensky in November, during the G20 meet in Indonesia.
Zelensky, who reiterated his conditions during his visit to the US earlier this month, had asserted that there could be no talks with Russia until it completely withdraws from Ukrainian territory and restores Ukraine’s territorial integrity. He also demanded war remunerations, the release of all prisoners, and a regional security guarantee. Zelensky’s 10 points include price restrictions on Russian energy exports, ensuring Ukrainian grain exports, rebuilding destroyed infrastructure in Ukraine, and the establishment of safeguards to protect Europe’s largest nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia.
After putting this proposal before the G7 countries, Zelensky also asked India to use its G20 presidency to help push his proposal through.
Though there has been no public response from the UN secretary general on the peace summit proposal yet, TASS reported that his office has expressed willingness to mediate, provided the proposal is adhered to by all parties involved.
“No talks under such illusory conditions”
Lavrov told RIA Novosti that Russia will never talk to anyone under the conditions proposed by Zelensky. He said that the Ukrainian president had “shown a complete lack of independence in making important decisions” during the last round of talks in March-April this year, and that he is putting forward “all sorts of ideas” as “peace formulas” hoping that he will be able to achieve them “with the help of the West.”
Both countries had initiated talks during the first few weeks of the war. They were, however, soon abandoned. Several reports alleged that the West had pressured Ukraine to abandon the talks.
Lavrov did confirm, however, that Russia is open to a negotiated settlement of the issues in Ukraine, as it had been in the past. Russian President Vladimir Putin had also expressed his desire to start negotiations with Ukraine earlier this month.
However, in another interview given to Channel One on Wednesday, Lavrov claimed that Russia’s aim is to complete the objectives of the “special operation” in Ukraine, namely the complete integration of four territories into Russia: Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson. He claimed that this integration had been sanctioned by the people in the regions concerned in the referendum conducted in September.
Referring to the referendum and Russia’s formal integration of these territories, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had earlier said that the Ukrainian peace plan ignores the “reality on the ground, which one simply cannot ignore.”
Lavrov said that apart from recognizing the new status of the four republics, Ukraine should also know that Moscow “seeks to prevent creation and continuation of any threats to [its] security from Ukrainian territory.”
Russian “special operations” in Ukraine will complete a year in February 2023.