Moscow, March 10 (RT): Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov, and Ukrainian FM Dmytro Kuleba attend a meeting at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Antalya, Turkey, on March 10, 2022. © Getty Images / Cem Ozdel
Russia and Ukraine have not yet reached a ceasefire agreement, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told journalists after meeting his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Turkey on Thursday. He described the talks as having been “difficult.”
Lavrov said Kiev had been invited to review a Russian proposal as to how the ongoing hostilities between the two countries might be resolved. Kuleba reiterated that his country did not intend to meet Russia’s demands.
The meeting in the Turkish city of Antalya was separate from the Belarus-hosted peace talks, three rounds of which have concluded without any significant progress having been made.
Lavrov stressed that the Thursday meeting was not a substitute for talks in Belarus. He suggested Kiev’s goal at the meeting was to create the impression that it was doing its best on the diplomatic front.
“They always want to substitute real work on implementing agreements by inventing new formats that are supposed to be covered prominently in the news,” the minister said. “I am not surprised that Mr. Kuleba made a statement that we didn’t agree to a ceasefire. Nobody was negotiating it here in the first place.”
Commenting on the possibility of holding negotiations at presidential level, Lavrov said Russian President Vladimir Putin would not meet with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky just for the sake of having a meeting.
Russia launched an attack on Ukraine in late February, having accused it of stonewalling attempts to peacefully resolve its conflict with the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and compromising Russian national security through allowing in NATO forces. Moscow says its goals are to demilitarize Ukraine and eradicate radical nationalist elements in its government and armed forces.
Kiev and its Western supporters called the attack an unprovoked act of aggression. The US and its allies have imposed harsh sanctions on Moscow, intended to cripple Russia’s economy, and also ramped up their supply of arms to Ukraine, but have refused to intervene in the conflict militarily.
Moscow sets conditions for Putin-Zelensky negotiations
Talks between the Russian and Ukrainian leaders shouldn’t be “a meeting for the sake of meeting,” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov has said.
There may be a need for direct talks between Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, and the Russian president is ready to take part in such negotiations, but it would require some preparation, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has said.
“We’ve confirmed today that President Putin isn’t rejecting the idea of a meeting with President Zelensky,” Lavrov said after “difficult” talks with Ukrainian FM Dmytro Kuleba in Turkey’s Antalya on Thursday.
He said he reminded his Ukrainian counterpart that Putin and Russia are “always ready to meet if we can achieve some added value and solve the problem.” However, Moscow sees no use in “meeting simply for the sake of meeting,” the minister pointed out.
“Possibly at some point, such necessity will hopefully arise,” Lavrov said of the possible talks between Putin and Zelensky. “But for this to happen preparatory work must be done along the Belarusian track.”
The delegations from Moscow and Kiev have already held three rounds of talks in Minsk since the start of the conflict on February 24. However, they haven’t delivered any significant results yet.
“Our very specific proposals were heard out by the Ukrainian side, and they promised that there would be very specific answers. We’re waiting,” the foreign minister said.
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.