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20 May, 2024 19:19

Peaceful settlement still possible in Ukraine – Moscow

Russia has never given up on negotiations, unlike Kiev, Moscow’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia has said
Peaceful settlement still possible in Ukraine – Moscow

The conflict between Moscow and Kiev could still be resolved peacefully and diplomatically, Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia told a UN Security Council meeting on Monday. For that to be possible, however, the West must stop its “malicious meddling” and listen to Russia’s concerns, he said.

Russia “has never given up on diplomacy,” unlike Kiev, the diplomat told the meeting. Moscow has repeatedly stated throughout the conflict it is ready to engage in the peace talks as long as the “reality on the ground” is taken into account, referring to the four former Ukrainian territories which joined Russia following referendums in September 2022.

Kiev has not recognized the results of those votes and continues to claim the territories, as well as the Crimean Peninsula, which also joined Russia after a referendum in 2014. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky also banned any talks with Russia’s current leadership, by a presidential decree in 2022.

On Monday, Nebenzia questioned Zelensky’s negotiating capacity, saying that “discussing any issues or signing any documents with leaders that have lost their legitimacy defies common sense.”

Zelensky’s tenure as president formally expired on Monday. While Ukraine was due to hold presidential elections in March, the vote was called off by Zelensky, citing the country’s martial law status, thus essentially granting himself a right to stay in power indefinitely.

“A true solution to the Ukrainian crisis through political and diplomatic means is still possible,” Nebenzia said. Such a solution would involve the West ending arms supplies to Kiev, as well as Ukraine returning to its neutral status and guaranteeing rights to its Russian-speaking and other minorities, the diplomat said. He added that these steps would “eliminate the causes that forced [Russia] to launch its special military operation.”

An upcoming Swiss peace summit on Ukraine scheduled for June would “add no value” to the diplomatic process, the Russian UN envoy said, adding that “any potential talks should be based on taking Russia’s security concerns into account in a fair way and recognizing the reality on the ground.”

The planned Swiss gathering will be focused on an “ultimatum” from Zelensky that is “detached from reality,” Nebenzia said, stressing that efforts to enforce such an ultimatum upon Moscow would be “futile.”

The diplomat was referring to the so-called ‘Zelensky peace formula’ – a set of conditions put forward by Kiev as a peace roadmap. The plan involves demands for Russia to fully withdraw its troops from all the territories claimed by Ukraine, to pay reparations and agree to a war-crimes tribunal. Moscow has previously dismissed those demands as “absurd.”