By Lidia Kelly and Ronald Popeski (Reuters) -Peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have stagnated, officials said on Tuesday, with both sides trading blame and Moscow indicating a return to talks may be difficult. Russia accused Ukraine of hardening its stance and the West for bolstering the government in Kyiv, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov […]
Russia, Ukraine peace talks stall amid mutual recriminations
By Lidia Kelly and Ronald Popeski
(Reuters) -Peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have stagnated, officials said on Tuesday, with both sides trading blame and Moscow indicating a return to talks may be difficult.
Russia accused Ukraine of hardening its stance and the West for bolstering the government in Kyiv, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that Washington, London and Brussels want to use Ukraine to their strategic advantage.
Lavrov said he believes no pace deal can be made if negotiators try to “transfer the dialogue” to focus on what the West had to say instead of the immediate situation in Ukraine. That rules out chances for progress in talks, he added.
“We always say that we are ready for negotiations … but we were given no other choice,” Lavrov said.
Ukraine and Russia have held intermittent peace talks since the end of February 2022, just days after Russia invaded its neighbour, but there has been little communication between them in recent weeks.
Also on Tuesday, Lavrov’s deputy Andrey Rudenko said Ukraine “has practically withdrawn from the negotiation process,” while Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky, said talks are not being conducted in any format.
“The (U.S.) State Department should not try to create “conditions” through military assistance to Kyiv. Useless,” Slutsky said.
The United States is expected to approve a $40 billion package of military and economic aid for Ukraine this week, with overall supply of weapons and aid from the West significantly increasing in recent weeks.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak confirmed that talks are “on hold” as Russia is not willing to accept that it “will not achieve any goals” and that the war is no longer going according to the Kremlin’s rules.
“Russia does not demonstrate a key understanding of today’s processes in the world,” Podolyak said, according to Ukrainian media. “And its extremely negative role.”
President Vladimir Putin says Russian forces are on a special operation to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. The West and Kyiv call that a false pretext to invade.
Thousands have been killed and millions displaced by the war. It has also left Russia in the grip of tough Western sanctions, and has raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and NATO.
“We have had not 10 years, but 20 years since the West began to prepare tools, including the use of NATO and Ukraine to contain Russia since the late 90s. All these years we insisted on negotiations – we have been ignored,” Lavrov said.
“Now we will solve problems depending on how we see them. I will always emphasize: we are ready to solve humanitarian issues,” Lavrov said.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Ron Popeski in Winnipeg, Canada; editing by Grant McCool)