Kremlin clarifies reports on Putin's ‘message’ to Zelensky
Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t ask the visiting head of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, to relay any special message to his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky, the Kremlin has insisted.
During Embalo’s visit to Moscow on Tuesday, Putin briefed him about how Russian-Ukrainian peace talks had collapsed after Kiev pulled out of them, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Thursday. Among other things, the Russian leader reiterated that Moscow was ready for negotiations, provided that Kiev changes its stance on the issue.
“Our colleague from the African state said he would have contacts [with Zelensky] and that he would relay Putin’s position to the Ukrainian side,” Peskov explained. “There was no specific message” involved.
Embalo met with Zelensky in Kiev on Wednesday and mentioned his talks with Putin during a joint press conference. The host described the words of his guest as “a signal from the Russian side” but dismissed the notion as mere rhetoric aimed at “nations that have not yet cut political ties” with Moscow.
“For a dialogue to happen one nation has to respect another nation, respect its territorial integrity, sovereignty and borders,” he added.
The position outlined by Peskov was voiced publicly by numerous other Russian officials, including the president. Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council last month banned any talks with Russia as long as Putin remains in power, a motion that Zelensky signed into law.
The Ukrainian president said that his country’s sole goal in the conflict was to defeat Russia on the battlefield and capture all territories that Kiev claims under its sovereignty. Peace talks can happen only after this objective is reached, he asserted. Zelensky is counting on the help of the US and its allies in supplying arms, intelligence and money to Ukraine for as long as it needs the support.