Putin-Zelensky meeting will be needed as soon as Moscow has clarity on issues that it considers key - Lavrov
MOSCOW. March 28 (Interfax) - A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is possible after clarity is achieved on issues that are key for Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
"A meeting is needed as soon as we have clarity on solutions to all key issues," Lavrov said in an interview with the Serb media.
Russia has attracted the attention of the West to the problems of Ukraine for many years, he said. "The West didn't listen to us, and now they have heard: it's at least something," the minister said.
"The main thing now is to stop conniving with the Ukrainians, who only want to create an illusion of talks, an illusion of a solution. We know their ability to imitate the process well; they won't be able to get away with this this time - a result is needed after the talks, which will be solidified by the presidents," the minister said.
A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would be counterproductive at present if it involved a mere exchange of opinions, he said.
President "Putin has said he has never refused to meet with President Zelensky. The only thing he views as fundamentally important is that the meetings should be prepared for well. The situation is such and this crisis in Ukraine, the internal Ukrainian conflict, has been brewing for so long all these years that a huge number of problems have accumulated, and therefore, just meeting and having a 'what you think and what I think' sort of exchange would simply be counterproductive now," Lavrov said in the interview.
"It stands to reason that, when the Ukrainian side approached us immediately after the start of the special military operation with a proposal on negotiations, we agreed, these negotiations have continued and are continuing right now. They'll be resumed literally today or tomorrow in Istanbul, this time around in an in-person format, following a series of videoconferences," he said.
"And we are interested in seeing these negotiations produce a result. A result that achieves goals that are a matter of principle to us," he said.
He also said that denazification and demilitarization are mandatory elements of Russia's future agreements with Ukraine.
"Both the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine are mandatory components of the agreements we are seeking," Lavrov said in the interview.
Members of Ukraine's nationalistic battalions "are practicing Nazi methods of warfare," Lavrov said. "If you have seen how Russian prisoners of war are treated by the Ukrainian Nazis from the Azov or Aidar battalions, I think you will understand everything," he said.
Russia is not interested in the West's mediation in negotiations on settling the situation in Ukraine, Sergei Lavrov said.
"We've been told now: give diplomacy a chance. Of course we want to give diplomacy a chance, and that's why we agreed to hold negotiations, which are now being resumed in Istanbul," Lavrov said in the interview.
"I've given you examples, but there are a lot of other examples where diplomatic achievements were destroyed by our Western counterparts. They can't be trusted now. And I wouldn't like to see any shuttles from our Western counterparts, because they did their shuttling job both in February 2014 in Ukraine and in February 2015 in Minsk," he said.