Ukrainian top diplomat comments on possible meeting with Russian FM
President Vladimir Zelensky had earlier said Kiev would be ready to talk to “a different Russia”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said he would “carefully consider” meeting his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov should the latter “ask” for such talks. The diplomat made the remarks to the media on the sidelines of the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), currently ongoing in Cambodia.
“He did not ask for a meeting, as is customary in diplomacy. If he does so, we will carefully consider his request, taking into account all aspects and realities of the current situation,” Kuleba stated, without elaborating if Kiev would actually agree to hold such a meeting, should Moscow ever send a request.
Ukraine has repeatedly sent mixed signals about the prospects of negotiating with Russia in an attempt to put an end to the ongoing conflict between the two nations. President Vladimir Zelensky had earlier said Kiev had not “closed the door” for such talks, while reiterating his refusal to negotiate with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.
“I said we would be ready to talk to Russia, but with a different Russia. One that is truly ready for peace. One that is ready to recognize that they are occupiers,” Zelensky told CNN.
Prior to that, Zelensky called on world leaders “to force Russia into real peace negotiations,” rolling out a list of conditions, ranging from the return of territory claimed by Kiev to financial reparations from Moscow. The Ukrainian president said previously that the only way to achieve such territorial goals may be to defeat Russia militarily.
The Russian stance on talks, however, remains unchanged, with Moscow repeatedly stating it is ready to negotiate without any preconditions. “We are still open to negotiations, we have never refused them, we are ready to conduct them,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
At the same time, Moscow suggested that Kiev is unable to act independently and thus lacks the ability to hold meaningful talks. On Friday, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that Kiev had severed all earlier negotiations “on command of its Western handlers,” referring to talks held in the early stages of the conflict. These efforts culminated in a meeting hosted by Türkiye in Istanbul but ultimately failed to yield any practical result.