Russia says it is ready to resume negotiations with Ukraine

Vladimir Medinsky, an adviser to the Russian president, said Moscow is ready to resume frozen talks but insisted “the ball is in Kiev’s feet”.

“Russia has never refused to negotiate, even at a high level,” Vladimir Medinsky, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin and head of the Russian delegation, said in an interview with Belarusian broadcaster ONT on May 22. “President Putin has often emphasized that.”

Medinsky accused Ukraine of “deliberately freezing the negotiation process” and said that the resumption of this activity depended entirely on the Kiev side. “We are ready to continue the dialogue. However, I would like to emphasize that the ball is in Ukraine’s feet,” said the Russian negotiator.

Medinsky said both sides need “serious preparations” for the meeting between the presidents of the two countries and that a draft peace deal needs to be agreed in advance. “Heads of state meet to reach a final agreement and sign documents, not to take photos,” he said.

Advisor to Russian President Vladimir Medinsky in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 29.  Photo: AFP.

Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky during a meeting with the Ukrainian delegation in Istanbul, Turkey, March 29. Picture: AFP.

According to Medinsky, Russia sent Ukraine a draft peace deal last month, and the two sides have agreed on a number of positions.

“We wanted to continue, but since then there has been no intention from the Ukrainian side to continue the dialogue. So our negotiators paused. It seems that Ukraine is in no hurry,” he said.

Ukraine has not commented on Medinsky’s remarks, but previously said it would not back down from Russia at the negotiating table. Mykhailo Podolyak, a top negotiator and adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on May 21 dismissed the possibility of territorial concessions and calls for an immediate ceasefire, saying it means the Russian military will remain in areas it controls which Kyiv could not accept.

“Russian forces must withdraw from Ukraine and then the peace process can resume,” Podolyak said.

President Zelenskyy said on May 21 that the conflict in that country could only be resolved through diplomacy. “There will be bloodshed, there will be fighting, but it can only be ended with diplomacy,” he said.

The latest talks between Moscow and Kyiv took place on April 22, but made no further progress, according to Russian media. After almost three months of fighting, the war in Ukraine has not cooled down as both sides fight in the Donbass region in the east of the country. US intelligence said the outcome of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine could only be determined by actual developments on the eastern battlefield.

Overview of the battlefield in eastern Ukraine after more than 80 days of fighting.  Click here for details.

Overview of the battlefield in eastern Ukraine after more than 80 days of fighting. Click here for details.