Moscow, Apr 22 (EFE).- Russia’s foreign minister said here Friday that negotiations with Ukraine on an end to the Russian military offensive in the neighboring country have stalled due to Kyiv’s failure to respond to Moscow’s latest proposal.
“Right now, they have ground to a halt, because another proposal we passed on to Ukrainian negotiators about five days ago, which was drawn up with their comments taken into account, it remains without a response,” Sergei Lavrov said during a joint press conference with visiting Kazakh counterpart Mukhtar Tileuberdi.
Lavrov mentioned reports that when someone asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy his opinion of the new Russian initiative, Ukraine’s leader said he had not received the proposal.
“It is not up to me to judge to what extent he is in control of the situation, but this is simply a characteristic of where this process called ‘negotiations’ is,” Russia’s top diplomat said.
Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinski, said on Telegram that had been in contact Friday with the leader of the Ukrainian delegation, Davyd Arkhamiya, but offered no information regarding the substance of the discussion.
“It is very strange for me to hear everyday statements by various Ukrainian representatives, including the president and his advisers, that make one think that they do not need these negotiations at all, that they have resigned themselves to their fate,” Lavrov said.
Shortly after the press conference, the Kremlin said that President Vladimir Putin will receive United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres next week for discussions on the war in Ukraine.
Guterres is set to arrive in Moscow on April 26 – two months after the start of the Russian invasion – and will meet with Lavrov as well as the president, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters.
The UN chief contacted Putin and Zelenskyy earlier this week asking to be received in the respective capitals.
In separate letters, Guterres said that “he would like to discuss urgent steps to bring about peace in Ukraine and the future of multilateralism based on the Charter of the United Nations and international law,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday.
The secretary-general had earlier urged Kyiv and Moscow to declare a four-day truce for Orthodox Easter, observed this year on Sunday, April 24.
Nearly 71 percent of Ukraine’s 41 million people identify as Orthodox Christians.
Zelenskyy’s government accepted the truce proposal, but Moscow rejected what Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, described as “insincere” appeals for cease-fires.
On Thursday, however, Putin ordered the Russian military to drop a plan to storm the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
The sprawling industrial complex, which covers 11 sq km (4.25 sq mi), is the last redoubt of Ukrainian government forces in the port city on the Sea of Azov, holding around 2,000 troops and – purportedly – 1,000 civilians.
In a televised Cabinet meeting, Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that an assault on the complex would be too costly in Russian lives. EFE