Home News Russia’s Ambassador Reveals Where Ukraine Peace Talks Stand Two Years On

Russia’s Ambassador Reveals Where Ukraine Peace Talks Stand Two Years On

by News7

Russia’s top envoy to the United States revealed to Newsweek where Moscow stands in seeking to achieve a peace agreement in the war in Ukraine ahead of the second anniversary of the devastating conflict.

“We are adamant: sooner or later peaceful agreements will be achieved against the efforts of the Kiev regime patrons,” Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said in comments shared with Newsweek, “who continue pumping billions of dollars in order to drag out the conflict, bringing misery to thousands of people.”

Referring to the outbreak of the war on February 24, 2022, as “one of the turning points in modern history,” Antonov defended the Kremlin’s decision to launch a “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine after nearly eight years of conflict between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russia separatists.

“The first shots were fired by Kiev Nazis in the spring of 2014,” Antonov said. “It was them who plunged Odessa into terror and sent tanks and planes against the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk. What seemed like a nightmare became a reality.”

Kyiv and Washington have a far different view of the conflict and the events leading up to it. The 2014 uprising that Antonov calls “a coup d’état with direct support of overseas curators, state figures, whose ideology was nationalism in its extreme forms” is viewed by the current Ukrainian government, led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, and its international supporters as a legitimate expression of the country’s desire to shift toward the West.

Nonetheless, the nation was plunged into conflict and, ultimately, a full-scale war. Now, Antonov outlined Russia’s views on the prospects for peace, as well as the obstacles.

While officials in Kyiv have repeatedly accused Moscow of interfering in Ukrainian affairs, Antonov argued that it was the West that had meddled in the post-Soviet republic that gained its independence in 1991. Such intervention, according to Antonov, has disrupted opportunities to achieve peace, both during the failed Minsk Agreements that sought to resolve the 2014-2022 conflict and efforts to mediate the larger war two years ago.

“It is important to understand: for decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia consistently respected the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine,” Antonov said. “It consistently built relations with the republic on the basis of generally recognized principles of cooperation and good-neighborliness.”

“After the start of the special military operation, in the spring of 2022, a negotiation process was launched in Istanbul, that could have resulted in a political solution to the crisis,” Antonov said. “However, pressure from ‘third’ capitals that were not interested in a diplomatic deal prevented this from happening. The Westerners did everything to deprive Ukraine of its independence and turn it into an anti-Russian bridgehead.”

Yet he argued that “Russia still doesn’t forgo the dialogue,” even if he felt that counterparts in the West were continuing to push for an unacceptable framework.

“They insist that there are no alternatives to the meaningless and one-sided ‘Copenhagen format’ and ‘Zelensky formula,'” Antonov said, “although these do not take into account the position of the Russian Federation and ignore aspirations of the Global South, which the neocolonizers are trying to delude and cynically use as mute observers.”

Newsweek reached out to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

The Copenhagen format is the informal name given to the peace talks that began in the Danish capital in June 2023, bringing together representatives of Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Three more rounds of discussions were held in Saudi Arabia, Malta and Switzerland, with dozens more nations joining the various sessions.

The Zelensky formula refers to the Ukrainian leader’s 10-point peace plan first unveiled in October 2022. Among other things, it calls for the total withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory, including the Crimean peninsula and the provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia, which were annexed without international recognition in 2014 and 2022, respectively.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin on February 20. Putin has remained adamant in achieving the goals he outlined for the invasion of Ukraine.

Other peace proposals have manifested from nations such as Brazil, China and a coalition of African countries, but none so far have managed to bring the two sides to the table.

Like Kyiv, Washington has asserted that the departure of Russian troops from the entirety of Ukrainian territory was a prerequisite for an end to the conflict, and that any negotiation would have to involve Ukraine.

“We are faithful to the principle of ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.’ We would not support Ukraine being forced to give up territory,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Newsweek. “Russia may think the path to ending this war is through D.C. This is of course not true.”

“And to be clear, Russia is not seeking to end its war of aggression against Ukraine anytime soon,” the spokesperson added. “Putin remains committed to his maximalist objective of fully subjugating Ukraine and its people. Putin will only agree to measures that will take him further toward that goal.”

The State Department spokesperson also cast skepticism on the sincerity of Russian overtures for peace.

“Russia has sent signals they are interested in a ceasefire along current lines publicly for a long time—they have said publicly that accepting Russian control of Ukrainian territory is a prerequisite for negotiations,” the State Department spokesperson said. “But we haven’t seen anything to indicate Russia is truly prepared to enter into some sort of negotiation that involves backing away from its maximalist demands.”

“What Russia wants are articles of capitulation,” the spokesperson added.

U.S. officials have also argued that supporting Ukraine even throughout a protracted conflict was crucial for U.S. national security interests, a point that has drawn the ire of Russian counterparts. Antonov argued that Washington was failing to take into account Russia’s own interests, thus exacerbating the conflict.

“Instead of hearing and understanding Russia’s key demands—the denazification and demilitarization of Ukrainian thugs as well as rejection of Russophobia and NATO plans of Kiev—Washington and its satellites are only making things worse,” Antonov said.

“They funnel weapons to their puppets, calling this ‘good investment,'” he added. “They turn a blind eye to blatant crimes of their ‘clients,’ who use lethal equipment to commit war crimes and terrorist acts against public infrastructure, civilians and even their own soldiers. They hush up numerous evidence that Western weaponry surfaces in war zones around the world.”

Ukrainian and U.S. officials, however, have accused Russia of committing a wide array of war crimes and have called for the prosecution of Russian officials even in the event of a diplomatic solution to the conflict. These calls took on a new weight last March when the Hague, Netherlands-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with war crimes investigations.

Russia, Ukraine, and the U.S. are not parties to the ICC’s founding Rome Statute, though Kyiv accepted the court’s jurisdiction on Ukrainian territory when the conflict first emerged in 2014.

Zelensky doubled down on his commitment to hold Russian officials accountable during a message Tuesday to the U.S.-Helsinki Commission held in the same courtroom in which the Nuremberg Trials were held to prosecute Nazi German officials. Both Moscow and Kyiv have accused one another of adhering to the same fascist ideology and both have denied the allegation.

Ukrainian soldiers fire at enemy drones in the direction of Bakhmut on February 20. Battles in Congress over the future of military assistance in Ukraine have loomed large over the battlefield.

“The world has seen Russian troops burn Ukrainian cities and villages to the ground,” Zelensky said. “Everyone in the world has heard about the mass killings that inevitably follow the Russian flag across occupied territories. It is impossible to reconcile with the pain of families torn apart by Putin’s war and the deportation of Ukrainian children. We must not forget the millions of Ukrainians who are surviving under Russian occupation, denied even the most basic human rights.”

“Let nothing stand in the way of justice,” he added. “Just like Nazism was condemned, Putin’s state must face the same fate. I urge everyone who can help hasten the arrival of true peace.”

Moscow has argued that such moves only narrow the path to diplomacy and raise the possibility of a direct clash between major powers. Antonov referred to the current U.S. approach to talks while continuing military aid to Ukraine as a strategy that “in essence is little different from military confrontation.”

Meanwhile, on the battlefield, Ukraine continues to face major challenges as evidenced by recent Russian advances amid a bloody, year-long stalemate and increasingly difficult debates in Washington over the future of military assistance to Kyiv. President Joe Biden’s administration has remained adamant about the need to continue and expand such aid, but skepticism from Republicans has emerged as a key foreign policy flashpoint in the leadup to the 2024 election.

Following talks with Zelensky on Monday, Biden reiterated his position to reporters at the White House, asserting that “the idea that we’re going to walk away from Ukraine, the idea that we’re going to let NATO begin to split is totally against the interests of the United States of America and it is against our word we’ve given since all the way back to [President Dwight D.] Eisenhower.”

Antonov, for his part, remained confident that the U.S. would have to be the one to change course in order to bring about a negotiated end to the war.

“There is no prospect of talking to our country from the position of strength and sanctions pressure,” Antonov said. “The persistent desire to dominate only leads to the opposite effect. The earlier America realizes this, the sooner the world will have a chance to return to a stable, sustainable and predictable path of development.”

“The liberation of cities, first and foremost Mariupol, Artemovsk and Avdeevka,” he added, “are clear signs of the Kiev regime’s agony and the failure of the West’s anti-Russian policy.”

Update 2/20/24, 5:10 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include comments by a U.S. State Department spokesperson.

Uncommon KnowledgeNewsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Source : Newsweek

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