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Russia says ready to resume peace talks, but Ukraine rejects 'concessions'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Smoke rises from an oil refinery after an attack outside the city of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region, on May 22, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The Russian government is ready to resume peace talks with Ukraine, Moscow’s chief negotiator said on Sunday, adding that the initiative must come from Kiev.

In an interview with Belarusian TV, Kremlin aide Vladimir Medinsky said Russia has never refused talks to end the war that will enter its fourth month on Tuesday.

“For our part, we are ready to continue the dialogue,” Medinsky said. “Freezing talks was entirely Ukraine's initiative, and the ball is completely in their court.”

Talks between the two warring sides have been held regularly both in person and via video link since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine on February 24.

Earlier, Ukraine’s lead negotiator Mykhaylo Podolyak said that talks with Moscow were "on hold" after being held regularly in the earlier stages of the conflict, without producing a breakthrough.

Russia’s offer to resume talks comes after Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on May 22 that Kiev won’t give any concessions to Russia.

"The war must end with the complete restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," he said. "That is our victory. Our common victory with the civilized world. After all, today [Ukraine] is defending not only itself.”

His remarks came after Polish President Andrzej Duda, in a surprise visit, urged Kiev not to give in to the demands of the Russian government.

Despite calls from US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for an immediate ceasefire, Podolyak made it clear that Ukraine would not accept any deal with Russia that involves territorial concessions to Moscow.

“Any concession to Russia is not a path to peace, but a war postponed for several years. Ukraine trades neither its sovereignty nor territories and Ukrainians living on them,” Podolyak said.

“Well, we have a better idea. The world has to agree on the transfer of multi-launch rocket systems to Ukraine and other necessary heavy weapons to unblock the Black Sea. Then we will do everything ourselves.”

Fanning the flames of war, EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell also said that “the time to push forward European defense is now.”

He confirmed that the EU’s stockpiles were depleted due to its military support to Ukraine and urged strengthening the support and military infrastructure.

“Depleted stockpiles resulting from EU military support to Ukraine point to shortfalls and underinvestment in the EU’s defense industry for a number of years,” Kiev Independent News agency cited Borrel as saying.

Western governments including the US and the EU have caused the prolongation of the conflict by sending military support to Ukraine, which has in many cases been used against civilians.

US Special Forces being deployed to Ukraine

Meanwhile, the US government is set to deploy members of its Special Forces to guard its reopened embassy in Kiev as the conflict in eastern Ukraine rages on.

“We are in close touch with our colleagues at the State Department about potential security requirements now that they have resumed operations at the embassy in Kyiv,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

“But no decisions have been made, and no specific proposals have been debated at senior levels of the department about the return of U.S. military members to Ukraine for that or any other purpose.”

Last month, Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence services, said that US forces sent to Kiev under the guise of a “peacekeeping contingent”, were part of a plot to seize Western Ukrainian territory for themselves.


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