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Russia still open to diplomacy on Ukraine – Lavrov

Russia is willing to consider proposals by Latin American and African countries to end the Ukraine conflict, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. His remarks came after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Ukraine and Russia had both signaled readiness to host a peace mission of African leaders.   

Speaking during a joint press conference with Belarusian counterpart Sergey Aleynik on Wednesday, Lavrov said: “We have replied to Latin American and African friends that we are ready to consider any of their proposals which are based on a genuine wish to contribute to the stabilization of the world order.” The Russian foreign minister noted that Moscow had not yet received “anything on paper” from Brazil or African states.    

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South African leader Ramaphosa revealed on Tuesday that he had held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky, and that they were “both ready to receive the African leaders and to have a discussion on how this conflict can be brought to an end.”  

According to Ramaphosa, the leaders of Senegal, Uganda, and Egypt had agreed to participate in the initiative.   

Last Saturday, Zelensky rejected Pope Francis’ offer to help negotiate an end to the conflict with Moscow.  

READ MORE: No peace talks ‘on Russian terms’ – Kiev

“With all due respect to His Holiness, we don’t need mediators, we need a just peace,” the Ukrainian leader told the Italian media, insisting that “you can’t mediate with Putin.” 

Speaking to Spain’s El País newspaper earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he believed that “peace negotiations are not possible at this time.” 

Since Russia launched its military campaign against Ukraine last February, several nations, including China, Brazil, and Türkiye, have offered assistance as mediators.  

Turkish-brokered talks in the opening stages of the conflict appeared to be on the verge of agreeing a truce. However, Ukraine pulled out in early April 2022 after discovering what it claimed was evidence of Russian war crimes in the suburbs of Kiev.  

Moscow has denied those allegations, and has accused the US and UK of derailing the negotiations.  

Kiev has since produced a ten-point peace plan that calls for the withdrawal of Russian forces from all territories within Ukraine’s 1991 borders. Ukraine also insists on Russia paying reparations and surrendering its officials to face war crimes tribunals. 

The Kremlin has dismissed the plan as “unacceptable” and ignoring the reality on the ground.

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