12 Apr 2024 20:48

Lukashenko urges Ukraine to sit at negotiating table with Russia

MINSK. April 12 (Interfax) - The current moment is very opportune for starting peace talks on Ukraine, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said before a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

"The Russian president devoted half of his introductory remarks to peace negotiations yesterday. From the diplomatic standpoint, all of you should understand why it's so. It seems to me, it's a moment for the Ukrainians and the West to sit at the negotiating table and reach a definitive consensus," Lukashenko said in remarks for the media, an excerpt of which was published on the First Man's Pool Telegram channel close to the Belarusian presidential press service.

"There are documents, and they've been initialed by both the Russian and the Ukrainian side. Let's revisit those documents and use them as a springboard. Or dwell on the principles that are embedded in those documents," Lukashenko said.

"It's a very good moment for Ukraine and its supervisors to make a decision. It needs to be made," he said.

Moreover, peace talks with Ukraine should be started as long as there is a legitimate Ukrainian leadership with which some consensus could be reached, Lukashenko said in a video available on journalist Pavel Zarubin's Telegram channel.

Zelensky's presidential term ends "on May 21 or 22," Lukashenko said. "There could be a situation where, for instance, Putin would say: guys, whom should we sign a treaty with? The Ukrainian president's term has expired," he said.

Lukashenko also mentioned a decline in Zelensky's approval ratings.

"Suppose we sign some treaty with him today, and then a new president comes along tomorrow, who doesn't like it and says this was signed by an illegitimate president. They know how to do that, as happened with the Minsk Agreements," Lukashenko said.

"The Americans would press on the pocket and tell them to continue the war - billions are always too hot to keep, you know. And so the war will continue," he said.

Putin said on Thursday that Russia was prepared for negotiations on Ukraine, as long as no one enforced a position not based on reality on Moscow.

"We are ready to work constructively, but there certainly cannot be any kind of position imposed on us that is not based on reality," Putin said while meeting Lukashenko.

Putin recalled that, back in 2022, Russia and Ukraine started negotiations at Minsk's initiative in two Belarusian cities and then continued them in Turkey, where certain agreements were reached, and the parties initialed the document.

However, after Russia withdrew its forces from Kiev, those agreements were thrown away, he said.

Lukashenko said he supported Russia's position on settling the Ukraine crisis.

"I absolutely support the position of the current Russian leadership [and] your position on a peace process in this conflict. Today there is everything in place for sitting down and reaching a deal. I feel the moment is not far off when Ukraine thinks again and realizes where its happiness is," he said.