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7 Feb, 2023 21:19

Moscow says it’s ready for ‘normal talks’ with West

There’s no point, however, in reading “statements that have already been voiced in public,” a senior Russian diplomat believes
Moscow says it’s ready for ‘normal talks’ with West

Moscow is ready for a substantive discussion with the collective West as a whole or any party, Sergey Belyaev, the director of the Second European Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, has said. The senior diplomat made the remarks in an interview with RTVI published Tuesday.

Russia is prepared to talk to “anyone, with the British and, in general, with the Finns, Swedes, anyone,” Belyaev stressed. “If there is a desire to sit down and have a normal talk about ways to normalize the situation, about ways to minimize risks – and there are risks.”

At the same time, there’s no point in any negotiations if the “conversation with us is needed only in order to sit down at the table and read to us, as it sometimes happens, those statements that have already been voiced in public,” he added.

The diplomat pointed to the inability of Western nations to negotiate in any meaningful way, recalling the aftermath of the blasts that heavily damaged the Nord Stream pipelines last September. Despite Moscow’s repeated calls for a joint probe into the incident, the West has exhibited a very suspicious reluctance to perform a transparent investigation, Belyaev noted. 

“To all our proposals [on the potential probe] there was either no answer, or the answer was a categorical ‘no.’ The question arises: if they do not want to conduct an investigation together with us, then why?” he wondered.

Relations between Russia and the West had been fraught for some time but entered a downward spiral last February after Moscow launched its military operation in neighboring Ukraine, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, which were designed to give Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian, German, and French leaders have since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the agreement to buy time for Kiev to build up its military.

The operation was preceded by Moscow having called for a comprehensive, multiparty security guarantees agreement, but this was squarely rejected by Washington.