Russia says idea of Ukraine peace talks without Moscow is absurd

By Thomson Reuters Feb 26, 2024 | 4:43 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Monday that the idea of holding peace talks without Russia was ridiculous, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he hoped to hold a spring summit in Switzerland to discuss his peace vision with Kyiv’s allies.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “We have repeatedly said that this is a strange format, to say the least, because certain peace plans are being implemented without the participation of Russia, which in itself is frivolous and even laughable.”

Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said on Sunday, however, that a blueprint from the summit in Switzerland could be handed to Russia at a later date.

“There can be a situation in which we together invite representatives of the Russian Federation, where they will be presented with the plan in case whoever is representing the aggressor country at that time will want to genuinely end this war and return to a just peace,” Yermak said.

After two years of war, Russia holds just under a fifth of Ukraine’s internationally recognised territory. Moscow has repeatedly said it is open to talks, but that these must recognise the “new realities on the ground”. Ukraine demands the restoration of its territorial integrity and a full withdrawal of Russian forces.

Reuters reported exclusively this month that Putin sent signals to the United States in 2023 in public and privately through intermediaries, including through Moscow’s Arab partners in the Middle East, that he was ready to consider a ceasefire in Ukraine that would freeze the conflict at the current lines.

A U.S. source denied there had been any official contact and said Washington would not engage in talks that did not involve Ukraine.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Nick Macfie)