Chief Russian negotiator rejects idea of Putin-Zelensky meeting

Russia’s chief negotiator on Sunday rejected the idea of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, emphasizing that the two sides still remain at odds when it comes to territorial disputes.

Russian chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky wrote in a Telegram post that “The draft agreement is not ready for submission to a meeting at the top,” according to a Reuters translation.

He said Russia and Ukraine remain far apart on the topics of Crimea and two breakaway territories in the Donbas region, which Putin recognized as independent in February.

“I repeat again and again: Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbas remains UNCHANGED,” Medinsky said, according to Reuters.

Medinsky’s comments come as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine progresses through its fifth week. Moscow has taken control of some Ukrainian cities, though its efforts have stalled in some areas because of staunch Ukrainian opposition.

The two sides have engaged in a number of rounds of negotiations, but none have bore any major breakthroughs.

Zelensky last month pressed for a meeting with Putin, but top Russian officials have emphasized that agreements have to be in place for the two men to speak face-to-face.

Medinsky on Sunday said that Ukraine has become more realistic during peace talks, having agreed to be neutral, not possess nuclear weapons, not become a member of a military alliance and not provide military bases, according to Reuters.

The Russian negotiator, however, said his outlook did not concur with that of Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia, who told Ukrainian television on Saturday that the preliminary agreement between the two countries was sufficient grounds for Zelensky and Putin to speak, according to Reuters.

“Unfortunately, I don’t share Arakhamia’s optimism,” Medinsky said, according to the news wire. “Moreover, Ukrainian diplomatic and military experts lag far behind on confirming even those agreements which were already reached at the political level on the draft text.”

Tags Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelensky

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