Following a failed third round of peace talks and an alleged assassination of a member of the Ukrainian negotiating delegation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba met in Antalya, Turkey. This is the first high-level talks since the invasion to discuss a ceasefire and a humanitarian corridor in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where the Russians bombed a children’s hospital, wounding 17 people and injuring more in the process.
Ukrainian FM Kuleba on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum:
– Lavrov did not commit to humanitarian corridor in Mariupol
– No progress on ceasefire
– Conversation easy and difficult
– Lavrov followed traditional narratives about Ukraine pic.twitter.com/W9c6kR1E5E
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) March 10, 2022
According to Kuleba, the high-level talks were said to be “difficult” with a tense atmosphere. Originally, he wanted to pursue a 24-hour ceasefire across all active war zones as well as a humanitarian corridor in the city of Mariupol to evacuate civilians. However, the talks between the two foreign ministers, which lasted for about an hour and 40 minutes, made no significant progress as Russian foreign minister Lavrov denied doing any of the two.
“We also raised the issue of a ceasefire… a 24-hour ceasefire to resolve the most pressing humanitarian issues,” he said. “We did not make progress on this since that it seems that there are other decision-makers for this matter in Russia.”
Lavrov, who was also sanctioned by the international community due to his participation in the Russian invasion, reiterated to Kuleba that Russia wanted a demilitarized Ukraine. It was apparent that the Russian side was not interested in negotiating the terms as a demilitarized Ukraine was one of Russia’s initial demands.
It can be remembered that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had already foregone the idea of joining NATO as he stated he did not want his country to beg and plead for membership.
“Regarding NATO, I have cooled down regarding this question a long time ago after we understood that NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine. The alliance is afraid of controversial things and confrontation with Russia,” he explained.
He also went on to say that Ukraine “was begging of something on its knees” and also said that they’re not going to plead any longer as he did not “want to be that president.”
When asked about a peaceful dialogue with Russia during an interview for ABC News, Zelensky said that he was open to genuine dialogue with Putin. “I am ready for a dialogue. We are not ready for the capitulation because it’s not me. It’s about the people who elected me,” he said.
In this manner, it can be observed that Ukraine had already given in on one of Russia’s demands, and that was for Ukraine not to join NATO as it was a security concern for them. Apparently, this was not enough of a bargaining chip for Ukraine as Lavrov notably said no to both a ceasefire and a humanitarian corridor.
Despite not committing to anything, Lavrov did say that Russia was ready and willing to continue high-level talks as the third round of negotiations between the Kremlin and Ukraine in Belarus had modest progress at best. He also reiterated that Russia had already sent the government of Ukraine various pathways to end the war, presumably those demands earlier said by Russian Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov. In turn, Kuleba stated that these demands were not negotiations but a full-on surrender to Russian forces as it would require them to alter their constitution to become a neutral country.
Lavrov, who is well aware of the military assistance the West is giving Ukraine, notably the MiG-29 fighter planes from Poland and MANPADS from Germany, issued a stark warning to NATO that there will be consequences for their actions if they gave weapons of mass destruction to Ukraine.
“Where these thousands of non-portable anti-aircraft missile systems will end up is the question we ask our colleagues in the European Union. When they are interested in putting an end to a policy that has been deployed over many years of making Ukraine a threat to the Russian Federation, there is no answer as to how this so-called MANPADS will then be controlled,” he said.
Petrifying war crime in Mariupol. Russian air strike targeted a hospital and a maternity house. We could stop this barbarism by protecting our skies. For the sake of humanity, provide us with aircraft, now! Lives are being lost while this is being considered over and over again. pic.twitter.com/CkacLlF0ZQ
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 9, 2022
He then described the West’s moves to supply weapons to Ukraine as “dangerous” and claimed that the maternity hospital that was bombed in Mariupol was used as a base by Ukrainian nationalists. However, there is no evidence to prove this claim. He also noted that the civilian casualties in the war that Russia was accused of killing were just “pathetic cries” from Ukraine and that Russia was only ridding Ukraine of modern-day Nazis.
Despite these threats, Lavrov also emphasized that Russian President Vladimir Putin was ready to discuss specific issues with Zelensky and that he would not refuse a meeting.
In an apparent reply to the Patriot weapon systems being sent from Germany to Poland as the West fears that Russia might advance further, he replied that they “…do not plan to attack other countries; we did not attack Ukraine either. However, we just explained to Ukraine repeatedly that a situation posed direct security threats to the Russian Federation.”
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