Russian minister casts prospective Ukraine peace talks as Western plot to win hesitant Global South

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s top diplomat warned Thursday that prospective negotiations to end the fighting in Ukraine could be successful only if they take Moscow’s interests into account, dismissing a planned round of peace talks as a Western ruse to rally broader international support for Kyiv.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov charged that Ukraine’s Western allies are currently involved in a massive diplomatic blitz to persuade as many countries of the Global South as possible to join a meeting in Switzerland to discuss a potential peace plan.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with about 70 foreign ambassadors to Moscow, Lavrov argued that the West is seeking to boost attendance at the planned round of negotiations in Switzerland by claiming that its participants would be free to discuss only certain aspects of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s peace plan, such as ways to ensure global food security.

Lavrov described such arguments as a Western ploy to attract more hesitant countries of the Global South and draw up to 140 participants in order to cast the conference as a show of overwhelming support around the world for Ukraine.

He emphasized that any peace talks would be a “useless waste of time” if they did not take Moscow’s interests into account.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that he sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022 to protect Russian interests and prevent Ukraine from posing a major security threat to Russia by joining NATO. Kyiv and its allies have denounced Russia’s military campaign as an unprovoked act of aggression.

Lavrov reaffirmed Moscow’s dismissal of Zelenskyy’s peace formula that requires Russia to pull back its troops, pay compensation to Ukraine and face an international tribunal for its action.

He stated that any prospective peace deal must respect Russia’s security interests and recognize the “new realities,” a reference to Moscow’s territorial gains.

“We are defending our truth, the interests of our people in the territories which have been founded by their ancestors who lived there for centuries,” Lavrov said. “If they are willing to talk on the basis of justice, on the balance of the realities and the balance of security interests, we are ready for it at any time.”


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