KIEV, July 18. /TASS/. Kiev will be ready for talks with Moscow only after the latter’s "defeat on the battlefield," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said.
"Let us first change the situation on the front, and then we will speak. Everyone understands that the talks are directly linked with the situation on the front. I say it to all partners: Russia is to sit down at the negotiating table only after the defeat on the battlefield. Otherwise it will be a language of ultimatums again," he said in an interview with Forbes Ukraine, which came out on Monday.
According to the Ukrainian top diplomat, President Vladimir Zelensky has a principled position on this matter. "He doesn’t rule out possible talks, but there are no grounds for them now, taking into account Russia’s aggressive behavior," he said, adding that the president told it quite clearly to Western leaders who had hinted at possible talks.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Monday, commenting on Kuleba’s words, that Kiev doesn’t want peace and has refused from talks with Moscow under Washington’s dictation.
"This is an answer to all who accuses Russia of dodging talks with the Kiev regime: the Kiev regime has refused from them itself. Kuleba has confirmed it once again today. However, he forgot to add that it is not the position of the state of Ukraine but a Washington’s song caught up by the Kiev regime. But the mere fact that [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensy and his team (al least, what has remained of it) don’t want any peace has been confirmed," she wrote on her Telegram channel.
Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on July 3 that the countries staking on further hostilities "don’t let the Ukrainian either think or speak about peace."
The Russian-Ukrainian talks have been conducted since February 28. Several meetings were organized in Belarus, then the sides continued negotiations in the videoconference format. The next offline round of talks took place in Istanbul on March 29. However, on April 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists that Kiev had deviated from the previous agreements and drove the process into a dead end. On April 20, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow had handed over to Kiev a clearly-worded draft document on agreements and was waiting for a response.