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13 Apr, 2024 13:07

No point in Russia signing peace deal with Zelensky – Lukashenko

A new administration in Kiev could axe any agreement reached between the outgoing president and Moscow, Belarusian leader has warned
No point in Russia signing peace deal with Zelensky – Lukashenko

There’s no use for Russia to sign a peace agreement with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky as his term in office is nearly over, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has suggested.

During a meeting with Lukashenko on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that a peaceful end to the Ukraine conflict is “exactly what we’re inclined to do,” but stressed that Russia would not accept any imposed agreements that ignore its interests.

At a press briefing on Friday, Lukashenko noted that the Ukrainian president’s term ends in May, which means that any deal reached with him would be futile because it could easily be overturned by the new administration.

“A situation may arise when Putin says: ‘Guys, who should we sign an agreement with?..’ The powers of the president of Ukraine have expired,” Lukashenko stated, adding that it would actually be unwise to ink a deal with the Ukrainian leader.

“Today we will sign with him, let’s say, some kind of agreement, tomorrow you will come to power, become president, you won’t like it... You will discard this: it was signed by an illegitimate president, and I don’t condone this at all, the new president will say,” he told journalist Pavel Zarubin.

Lukashenko added that Ukraine’s Western backers could also force a new president to abandon any peace deal reached between Moscow and Zelensky. According to Lukashenko, this is what happened with the now-defunct Minsk accords. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko and ex-German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both admitted that the agreements brokered with Moscow in 2014 were reached to allow Kiev re-arm its forces in the aftermath of the hostilities triggered by the Maidan coup.

It is currently unclear what will happen after Zelensky’s first five-year term is over, as he has repeatedly ruled out holding a presidential election, citing martial law. Kiev’s Western backers have urged Zelensky to hold the elections within the mandated time frame, but the Ukrainian president has said he would only do so if Western nations were willing to fund them.

In 2022, Zelensky signed a law which declares peace talks with Russia illegal as long as Vladimir Putin remains in power. According to a peace formula presented by Zelensky the same year, negotiations also can’t be held unless Russian forces withdraw from all territories that Kiev claims as its own.

Russia has repeatedly said it was ready to engage in peace negotiations with Ukraine but considers Zelensky’s demands unrealistic.