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April 30 (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the lifting of sanctions on Russia is part of peace talks with Ukraine, but senior Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak denied that was the case.
“Currently, the Russian and Ukrainian delegations are discussing every day via video conference a draft of a possible treaty,” Lavrov said in comments to China’s official Xinhua news agency published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website on Saturday.
“The agenda of the talks … includes, among other things, issues of denationalization, recognition of new geopolitical realities, lifting of sanctions, status of the Russian language,” Lavrov said, without giving details.
But Podolyak was contemptuous, saying Lavrov had not participated in any single round of negotiations and that Ukraine did not need lessons in “denazification” or the use of the Russian language by those who had attacked and occupied Ukrainian cities and towns.
In comments quoted by the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, he said that “the issue of global international sanctions against the Russian Federation is not discussed at all” in the context of Russia-Ukraine negotiations.
“It is up to all our partners, together with Ukraine, to decide which decisions to take on sanctions and when.
Zelenskiy has insisted since the start of the occupation on February 24 that Western sanctions against Russia should be strengthened and can not be part of the negotiations.
Kiev warned on Friday that talks to end the Russian occupation, already in its third month, were in danger of collapsing. Read more
There have been no face-to-face peace talks since March 29, and the atmosphere has been strained over Ukrainian accusations that Russian troops committed atrocities as they withdrew from areas near Kiev. Moscow has denied the allegations.
“We are in favor of continuing the negotiations, even though they are difficult,” Lavrov said.
Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to demilitarize its neighbor and free it from Western-promoted extreme anti-Russian nationalism. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
Ukraine’s western allies have frozen about half of Moscow’s state reserves in gold and foreign currency and imposed severe restrictions on trade with Russia, hitting its economy and putting it on the brink of sovereign bankruptcy. Read more
Reporting in Melbourne by Lydia Kelly and Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; Written by Kevin Liffey; Edited by Ros Russell
Our standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.
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