Moscow accuses kyiv of endangering the peace negotiations. If a few days ago he stated that Ukraine has tried to boycott the talks with the revelation of the Bucha massacre, this Thursday the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has assured that the Government of Volodímir Zelenski has changed what was agreed at the Istanbul meeting of the March 29, the results of which were then considered a step forward by the head of Russian diplomacy. “Washington and its allies are putting pressure on Zelensky to continue hostilities,” Lavrov said.
“We want to emphasize that the Ukrainian negotiators have begun to move away from their own proposals, which were positively valued, and have begun to provoke again,” added the senior official, after meeting in Moscow with the Bahrain Foreign Minister. Among the proposals presented on March 29 in the city of the Bosphorus, Zelensky’s team declared itself in favor of signing its neutrality, and with it its resignation from joining NATO, and agreed for the first time to negotiate in the next 15 years the situation in Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014. Also, for the presidents of both countries to talk about the status of the Donbas region, whose independence was recognized by Vladimir Putin on February 21 and marked the beautiful case to start the war three days later.
Although this plan was received positively, Lavrov now assures that it would alter the course of the talks. “The issues of Crimea and Donbas should be discussed at the meeting of the presidents of Russia and Ukraine. We all remember that Zelensky repeatedly stated that this meeting will only be possible after the cessation of hostilities, ”he also said this Thursday in a recording released via Telegram by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
According to Lavrov’s version, the Ukrainian government has reformulated the security guarantees on the Black Sea peninsula by “vague formulas about some kind of effective control (by Russia) as of February 23”, just the eve of the Russian attack. “Next time, the Ukrainian side will surely ask for the withdrawal of troops, and more and more preconditions. It is understandable, but unacceptable, “stressed Lavrov, who promised that his delegation will continue to negotiate” despite all provocations “, and accused kyiv of wanting to delay,” and even undermine “, the peace talks.
On April 5, Lavrov said that the Bucha massacre was committed “out of a desire to find a reason to interrupt the ongoing negotiations”, when “in accordance with the Istanbul pacts and as a gesture of goodwill, the Russian side decided to reduce tension on the ground, especially in the kyiv and Chernigov regions.” Contrary to this version, the information handled by the Pentagon indicates that the withdrawal was not really a withdrawal, but rather a relocation of troops due to the stagnation of progress on those fronts. Three days before the Istanbul negotiations, the Russian high command reduced its objectives and concentrated on taking the Donbas region.
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Russia acknowledges “significant casualties” among its troops
Foreign Minister Lavrov’s agenda also included this Thursday the meeting of the Russian Security Council, chaired by Putin. There, “the need to actively counter Ukrainian information and other acts of sabotage” was emphasized, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov. “The participants discussed the course of the ongoing military operation and negotiations,” he added.
In an interview with the British channel Sky News, Peskov also acknowledged that Russia has suffered “significant casualties” among the troops deployed in Ukraine. “It’s a great tragedy for us,” he said. On March 21 the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda published in its digital version for a few minutes that 9,861 Russian soldiers had died and that another 16,153 had been wounded. The information disappeared shortly after, and since then there has been no communication on the number of Russian soldiers killed on the Ukrainian front.
The peace talks began on February 28 and have alternated several in-person meetings with telematic meetings. At first they took place in various cities in Belarus near Poland and Ukraine, and later they moved to Istanbul. Now, two Putin allies insist on hosting the next meetings. One is the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, re-elected last Sunday and who has defied the EU by refusing to approve sanctions against the Russian energy sector. The Kremlin neither ruled out nor approved the invitation of the ultranationalist president, with whom Putin toasted in Moscow weeks before the war began.
The other proposal to host the next negotiating table comes from Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president. Both the president and his Foreign Minister, Vladimir Makei, stressed on Thursday that the final meeting of the Ukrainian and Russian parties “cannot take place without the participation of Belarus.” From the beginning of the invasion, the Minsk regime offered its territory to Moscow as a launch pad for its troops on the kyiv front.
Lukashenko spoke during the Security Council meeting of an alleged special operation to rescue a hundred truck drivers captured in Ukraine. “It was so brilliant that you didn’t even notice it,” he said.