As talks toward a peaceful settlement to the war in Ukraine have all but collapsed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow received a workable proposal from Ukrainian negotiators soon after the conflict began, but claimed Kiev abruptly broke off all dialogue and has been ‘silent’ ever since.
Speaking to TASS for an interview on Thursday, Lavrov said that while peace talks held in Istanbul in March offered some promise for an end to the fighting, the efforts quickly crumbled after Ukraine’s negotiation team ceased all contact with its Russian counterpart.
"These negotiations at some point at the end of March … led to a result that gave hope to all of us, thanks to the fact that the Ukrainian side for the first time put on paper a position that suited us as a basis for work," the FM said.
As of mid-April, however, "the Ukrainian side has not responded to the proposals that we transmitted to them," Lavrov went on, adding "There has been complete silence" ever since.
"If the Ukrainian side shows understanding that it is still necessary to conclude some agreements, we are ready for this. But they showed no such desire."
It’s unclear what proposal was advanced by Kiev, but Lavrov said the talks were ended soon after the "provocation in Bucha," referring to a series of alleged Russian war crimes in the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital. Though the minister dismissed the charges, claiming the atrocities were 'staged,' evidence has emerged indicating Russian soldiers were behind a number of grisly executions in the city. The allegations have yet to be probed by an impartial investigator.
While Kiev has previously signaled that it would be open to a diplomatic settlement, its rhetoric has become increasingly bellicose, with President Volodymyr Zelensky vowing to achieve a full military victory over Moscow earlier this week. Ukraine’s Western allies, meanwhile, have at times discouraged negotiations altogether, while simultaneously funneling billions of dollars in heavy weapons into the chaotic warzone.
France is among a small number of states currently urging for dialogue, but President Emmanuel Macron has faced intense criticism for the suggestion from Ukrainian officials and other nations in Eastern Europe. During a visit to Kiev on Thursday, the French leader said Ukraine must decide for itself whether to cede any territory to Russia – a concession Zelensky has repeatedly rejected throughout the conflict.
Some Western countries may favor prolonging the war over a diplomatic solution, regardless of the cost in blood or treasure. In April, the Washington Post reported that members of the NATO bloc prefer that Ukrainians continue "fighting and dying" to "a peace that comes too early," rejecting any outcome that could be sold as a "victory" for Moscow.
Additionally, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu recently said "There are countries within NATO who want the war to continue," hoping it will leave Russia "weaker," a view later echoed nearly verbatim by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.