Moscow casts doubt on rumored Ukraine peace plan
Russia doesn’t believe that a Ukraine peace proposal, which the Italian government reportedly shared with Kiev and Western allies, could be a viable solution to the ongoing crisis, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said in an interview with RT Arabic.
The document does not appear to be the potential breakthrough that some Italian officials claim it to be, Lavrov said. Italian Foreign Minister “Luigi Di Maio has been active in the media promoting the Italian four-point initiative. But we only read about it,” The foreign minister explained, referring to the fact that Italy apparently wouldn’t officially share its idea with Russia.
If judged by what the media said about the proposal, it makes Moscow “pity the lack of comprehension by its author of what is going on and their lack of knowledge of the subject and the history of the issue,” Russia’s top diplomat said.
The most glaring part is that the Italian proposal reportedly envisions the future of Crimea and Donbass as autonomous parts of Ukraine, he said. Russia reabsorbed Crimea in 2014, after the region’s population voted in a referendum for it to happen. Moscow recognized the People’s Donetsk and Lugansk republics as independent states days before launching its offensive in Ukraine.
“A serious politician that wants results as opposed to self-promotion before the voters simply cannot propose such things,” Lavrov told RT.
The diplomat reiterated that Russia used force against Ukraine because Kiev broke its written promises to reintegrate the Donbass republics as autonomous regions. Instead, two subsequent Ukrainian governments simply ignored rebel leaders while driving breakaway republics increasingly away with a trade blockade and discriminatory policies, Lavrov said.
“[Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky spits on Ukraine’s international obligations as well as on its constitution, which guarantees the rights of the Russian-speaking population,” Lavrov said.
He was referring to Ukrainian laws and regulations, which pushed the Russian language out of many spheres of public life in Ukraine, like the media, entertainment and education.
Donbass regions are predominantly Russian speaking. They rebelled against post-coup authorities in Kiev, partially because virtually the first move that they took was to strip the right of the regions to use Russian as a second official language.
Lavrov said that amid the Russian action in Ukraine, its military discovered Kiev’s plans to launch a major offensive against the breakaway regions, which was supposed to start in early March.
“I have no doubt that if this plan worked, the entire West would have turned a blind eye to any violations [by Kiev] the way they ignored its total disregard for any agreements over the previous five years,” he said.
Russia attacked the neighboring state, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since 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.