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Kremlin reiterates ruling out Donbass settlement as aim of potential Putin-Zelensky summit

The spokesman underscored that Russia is not a warring side in Donbass

MOSCOW, April 27. /TASS/. Settling the Donbass conflict cannot be the purpose of a possible meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.

"The president [of Russia Vladimir Putin] made his opinion regarding this initiative absolutely clear," the spokesman said. "This dialogue can only concern the matters of bilateral relations. That is, this dialogue cannot be held with the purpose of finding ways to regulate the conflict in southeastern Ukraine."

Peskov reiterated that Russia is not a warring side in Donbass. "Moscow is convinced that the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures, as well as establishing direct dialogue with the representatives and the leadership of the two self-proclaimed republics can solely be the right step towards a settlement," he pointed out.

There is a need to clarify many details regarding the agenda, the spokesman said. "Frankly speaking, if we got it right, the Ukrainian president said that it was the Donbass issue that needed to be discussed and the meeting should be focused on that," Peskov said, adding that it was not exactly in line with the Russian leader’s view of such a meeting. "In any case, numerous details need to be clarified," the press secretary noted. According to him, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak maintains constant contact with the Ukrainian president’s office. When asked whether the summit can be held somewhere other than Moscow, Peskov pointed out that Kiev had not proposed any specific venues so far.

On April 20, the Ukrainian head of state invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet "at any location" in the conflict-stricken region of Donbass. Putin later emphasized that the Ukrainian leadership must first and foremost hold talks with representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics to resolve the problems in Donbass, and only then can these issues be discussed with officials from third countries, namely Russia. Putin added that he is ready to welcome Zelensky in Moscow at any time if he wishes to discuss bilateral relations.

On Monday, Zelensky stated that he had instructed his Chief of Staff Andrei Yermak to organize a meeting with Putin. He added that the venue of the meeting is not as important as its content. The Ukrainian leader also said that he would be ready to discuss the status of Russian-speaking citizens and the Russian Church in Ukraine.