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Moscow still ready for talks with Kiev – Kremlin

Moscow is ready to resolve the ongoing conflict with Kiev through diplomatic means at any moment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the news media outlet RTVI on Tuesday. Russia has never rejected such an option, and it was Kiev that withdrew from the talks in spring 2022, he noted.

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Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022 to protect the Russian-speaking population of the two Donbass republics. The former Ukrainian territories declared independence from Kiev in the wake of the 2014 Maidan coup, leading to years of conflict.

Moscow has repeatedly stated that it is ready to talk with Kiev as long as the situation on the ground is considered. In autumn 2022, the two republics, alongside two other Ukrainian territories, officially joined Russia following a series of referendums.

Kiev has ruled out any negotiations with Moscow on multiple occasions. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree last autumn banning any talks with the current Kremlin leadership. He also put forward his own peace plan, demanding that all Russian troops withdraw from all the territories within Ukraine’s 1991 borders before any talks could commence. Moscow rejected the idea, calling it detached from reality.

“President [Vladimir Putin] has repeatedly stated that achieving our goals [in the conflict with Kiev] is our top priority. And we would prefer to do that through political and diplomatic means,” Peskov said on Tuesday, commenting on potential talks with Ukraine. “We are still ready for negotiations,” he added.

The Kremlin spokesman then said that Kiev itself had derailed the talks with Moscow that were held in spring 2022. “They [the Ukrainian officials] have themselves admitted that it was done on the orders of the UK… The situation is pretty obvious,” he told RTVI.

Peskov was referring to an earlier interview that Ukraine’s highest-ranking legislator, David Arakhamia, gave to the Ukrainian TV channel 1+1. The politician, who heads Zelensky’s Servant of the People party in parliament and led the Ukrainian delegation at the Istanbul talks, admitted that the conflict could have ended in spring 2022.

Moscow had essentially offered Ukraine peace in exchange for neutrality and a promise not to join NATO, he said in late November. He also revealed that then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited Kiev in early April, told Ukrainian officials not to “sign anything” with the Russians and to “just continue fighting” instead.

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