German FM shares stance on Russia-Ukraine peace talks
There is currently no point in negotiating with Russia over a peace settlement in Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said. “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s message so far has been the same every time: The attack will continue until Ukraine submits to his terms,” she told German magazine Stern on Wednesday.
Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine have effectively remained stalled since late March, as Western politicians, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have urged not to let Moscow win the conflict by extracting concessions from Kiev.
Baerbock accused Russia of not allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to evacuate civilians from the conflict-torn areas in Ukraine. “What can you negotiate with someone who is not even willing to agree with the International Committee of the Red Cross on humanitarian corridors for the escape of civilians?” Baerbock argued. Throughout the conflict, both sides have accused each other of blocking the evacuation of civilians from embattled cities and targeting civilian sites. Nevertheless, a ICRC-brokered safe passage was used to evacuate civilians from the city of Mariupol this past spring. ICRC chief Peter Maurer traveled to Moscow in March to negotiate the matter.
In an interview with Stern, Baerbock criticized the recent open letter, in which a number of German celebrities asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz to stop supplying Kiev with heavy weapons and strive for a quick ceasefire instead. “[If I were] Ukrainian, I would find the letter naive, disturbing, [and] arrogant,” the minister said. “What right would a German foreign minister, of all people, have to decide for Ukraine which part of the country should surrender [and] how many millions of its citizens should submit to Russian rule?”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last month that a peace agreement was possible only “after Ukraine fulfills all the demands of the Russian side.” Russia has also previously said that the deliveries of weapons to Ukraine from the West would only exacerbate the conflict.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”