Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that Western powers prevented an early settlement to the Ukraine War. He claimed that the U.S. and its allies advised Kyiv against a negotiated settlement to the conflict, which is closing in on its one-year anniversary.
Lavrov made his comments while on a visit to South Africa. His words echoed statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year asserting that Moscow was ready for talks but the West prevented them from taking place.
U.S. diplomats and those of other nations opposing Russia have repeatedly said they do not believe the Kremlin is serious about negotiations to end the war.
Lavrov disagreed. He said “it is well known that we supported the proposal of the Ukrainian side to negotiate early in the special military operation and by the end of March, the two delegations agreed on the principle to settle this conflict.”
Arrival | Official visit to the Republic of South Africa by H.E Mr Sergey Lavrov, Minister Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 23 January 2023.
📍#DIRCO, OR Tambo building, Pretoria.#BilateralRelations #SARussiaRelations 🇿🇦🇷🇺 pic.twitter.com/us3wfUAfiz
— DIRCO South Africa (@DIRCO_ZA) January 23, 2023
However, he claimed that it is “published openly” that Western powers told Ukraine that it was “too early” to enter negotiations. The foreign minister said that the nearly settled arrangement “was never revisited by the Kyiv regime.”
Highly anticipated talks took place in Turkey last March between the two sides, and at one point Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he’d seen “positive signs.”
The talks soon derailed, however, and did not result in even a ceasefire in the conflict. In April Lavrov expressed to Russian media that the discussions ended on the advice of U.S. and British officials.
Ukrainian media reported that negotiations shut down after Zelenskyy was visited by then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The New York Times noted last month that officials from both Russia and Ukraine still assert that they are willing to negotiate for peace. However, both have concrete terms that the other must follow.
Ukraine and the West have consistently demanded that Russia completely withdraw from Ukrainian territory before negotiations get underway. President Joe Biden signaled he will talk with Putin if the Kremlin shows it is committed to ending the invasion.
For its part, Russia insisted that Ukraine accept Moscow’s annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia as part of any settlement.
There are no current signs that either side is willing to stand down and allow fruitful negotiations to begin.