Moscow sets out conditions for talks with EU
Russia is open to any negotiations with the EU to find a way out of the current crisis, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told local media on Thursday. However, she voiced concerns that any meaningful discussions may start only after the bloc has “completely destroyed” its own economy.
Speaking to the Russian newspaper Argumenty i Fakty, Zakharova addressed a recent NBC report alleging that some Western officials believe that the upcoming winter may spell an opportunity for talks between Moscow and Kiev.
However, she noted that Western calls to seek a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict, “unfortunately are just rhetoric,” adding that all EU policies, including military support for Ukraine, “are aimed at escalation.”
The shift in narrative has been spurred by an emerging rift between ordinary European citizens and policymakers, she believes. The former “are getting tired of permanent confrontation rhetoric and endless baseless accusations against Russia,” the spokeswoman said, adding that “there is a growing demand for putting an end to the Ukraine conflict.”
These concerns are also underpinned by Europe’s economic woes, Zakharova continued. “News about new sanctions or regular calls to ‘punish’ Russia economically scare Europeans themselves,” she noted.
“Apparently, the EU needs to undermine its economy completely before calls to start the dialogue will be accompanied by concrete steps,” the official remarked, adding the bloc is pursuing these policies to please the US.
According to Zakharova, Moscow is open to “discussing ways out of the current crisis,” but any peace settlement must be of some benefit to Russia. “It is important that any proposals take into account the real situation ‘on the ground’ and have an added value for our country,” she noted.
In recent months, top EU officials have been sending conflicting signals about their stance on possible engagement with Moscow. While EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell claimed in April that the conflict in Ukraine “will be won on the battlefield,” last month he said that Brussels is ready to seek a “diplomatic solution” while vowing to continue to support Kiev militarily.
Russian officials have repeatedly stated they are ready to conduct negotiations with Kiev to end the conflict. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has set out conditions for any diplomatic engagement, which include the “restoration of [Ukraine’s] territorial integrity,” “compensation for all war damage” and “punishment of every war criminal.”