Lifting sanctions against Russia part of peace talks with Ukraine – Lavrov
(Reuters) – Lifting sanctions imposed on Russia is part of peace negotiations between Moscow and Ukraine, which are “difficult” but continue daily, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in remarks published early on Saturday.
Kyiv warned on Friday that talks on ending Russia’s invasion, now in its third month, were in danger of collapse.
“At present, the Russian and Ukrainian delegations are actually discussing on a daily basis via video-conferencing a draft of a possible treaty,” Lavrov said in comments to China’s official Xinhua news agency published on the Russian foreign ministry’s website.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has insisted since the invasion began on Feb. 24 that Western sanctions on Russia needed to be strengthened and could not be part of negotiations.
Ukraine and Russia have not held face-to-face peace talks since March 29, and the atmosphere has soured over Ukrainian allegations that Russian troops carried out atrocities as they withdrew from areas near Kyiv. Moscow has denied the claims.
Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its neighbour. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
“The talks’ agenda also includes, among others, the issues of denazificiation, the recognition of new geopolitical realities, the lifting of sanctions, the status of the Russian language,” Lavrov said, without elaborating.
“We are in favour of continuing the negotiations, although they are difficult,” Lavrov said.
Ukraine’s Western allies have placed sweeping sanctions on Moscow. They have frozen around half of Russia’s state gold and foreign currency reserves, hammering Russia’s economy and putting it on the brink of sovereign default.
(Reporting in Melbourne by Lidia Kelly; Editing by William Mallard)