Putin explains absence of peace talks with Ukraine
Ukraine refuses to engage in peace talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists on Friday, when asked about possible negotiations to end the conflict between the two countries.
The Kiev government “had been saying that they wanted talks and ostensibly asked for them, but now they issued a formal decision that prohibits them,” he said during a press conference in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Earlier this month, Zelensky signed a decree forbidding any negotiations with Putin, saying Ukraine will only talk to Russia when it has a different president. Speaking to journalists on Friday, Putin remarked that mediation by nations including Türkey between Moscow and Kiev may be required, if Ukraine’s position changes.
Putin recalled that Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary agreement which could have the halted hostilities, during Turkey-mediated talks in late March.
“Those agreements were almost initialled. But as soon as the troops were pulled back from Kiev, the leadership in Kiev lost all desire to have talks,” he remarked.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced a withdrawal of troops from around the Ukrainian capital after news broke that the negotiators in Istanbul had agreed on a draft treaty. Under its terms, Ukraine would have pledged to maintain a neutral status and prohibit foreign troops and military installations on its soil, in exchange for security guarantees from foreign nations, including Russia.
Days later, President Vladimir Zelensky accused Russian troops of committing war crimes, claiming that evidence was discovered in Bucha, one of the towns near Kiev that the Russian army had withdrawn from. He declared that the Ukrainian people would not allow him to negotiate with Russia after the discovery. Moscow claimed that the evidence was fabricated to justify breaking off the talks.
According to Russian diplomats, Moscow wrote up a formal peace agreement based on Ukrainian proposals and sent it to Kiev, but received no reply.
According to Ukrainian media reports in May, Zelensky was pressured into breaking off negotiations with Russia by Boris Johnson, then-prime minister of Britain. Johnson arrived in Kiev, “almost without warning” on April 9. He allegedly told the Ukrainian leader that Western nations would refuse to sign up to the security guarantees that Kiev wanted to receive under the proposed peace treaty.
President Zelensky has repeatedly stated that his only goal in the conflict is to defeat Russia on the battlefield and retake control of all territories that Kiev claims to be under its sovereignty.