On Monday, Russia’s foreign minister said that Moscow was willing to negotiate with Kyiv early after it started its attack last year, but the United States and other Western allies counselled Kyiv against conducting talks.
According to The Washington Post, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Pretoria, South Africa, as part of Russia’s effort to enhance relations with the African country and blamed the West for the delayed discussions.
Earlier in the special military operation, Lavrov told The Post, “we backed the initiative of the Ukrainian side to talk.” By the end of March, the two delegations had reached an agreement on the concept to resolve the dispute.
The agreement that was virtually agreed upon was never reviewed by the Kyiv government, he said, and it is “clearly known” and “written publicly” that our American, British, and other European friends informed Ukraine that it is too early to deal.
There were many failed peace negotiations in the weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and began bombing Ukrainian towns.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported “promising” indicators from long-awaited meetings at the end of March in Istanbul, Turkey.
Ukrainian negotiators agreed to a neutral status provided Ukraine receives enough security assurances from the West, conceding to a key Russian demand. Meanwhile, Moscow promised to “fundamentally scale down” military action between Kyiv and Chernihiv, which Russian Deputy Minister of Defence Alexander Fomin stated intended to “build mutual confidence.”
In contrast, Zelenskyy voiced some suspicion, adding, “Ukrainians are not naïve people.”
President Putin of Russia said on April 12 that peace talks had hit a “dead end,” meaning that they had failed to bring about a truce.
Lavrov told Russian media in April that a decision to terminate discussions was decided on the recommendation of American and British “colleagues” — a stance he has subsequently maintained.
Ukrainska Pravda, a Ukrainian news source, reports that the negotiations were cancelled because former British Prime Minister Johnson met with Zelenskyy and warned him not to deal with Putin because he was a war criminal.
At the time Ukraine was also compiling evidence of war crimes after the Bucha tragedy in late March, according to the media site.
There have been no recent indications from either Russia or Ukraine that they are willing to negotiate an end to the conflict.
According to a December New York Times article, although both Ukraine and Russia claim to be open to peace negotiations, they are doing so under very strict conditions.
According to the Associated Press, Ukraine has suggested holding a peace conference in February 2022 based on the principles of a 10-point peace plan but has insisted that Russia only be included if it agrees to join in a war-crimes tribunal.
Russia, however, has claimed that Ukraine would need to recognise Russia’s annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia as part of any peace accord.