25 May 2022 10:42

Kyiv's intention to continue talks only if Russia returns to Feb 24 positions can't be called constructive - deputy FM

MOSCOW. May 25 (Interfax) - The terms set by Ukraine for continuing talks with Russia make one doubt that Kyiv sincerely wishes to find a peaceful solution, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said.

"This statement can hardly be assessed as constructive. Please note that Ukraine took active part in the negotiations practically since the first day of the special operation and did not set any terms," Rudenko said, as he commented on a statement by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the resumption of talks would require the return of Russian forces to the positions they held on February 24.

"As it is setting terms today, this makes us doubt the sincerity of their desire to find a peaceful solution," he said.

Rudenko also said that Russia is ready for dialogue to resolve the situation with grain-carrying ships blocked in Ukrainian ports.

"We are always ready for dialogue with everyone who seeks peace, a peaceful resolution of all problems. I leave the statement by Ursula von der Leyen on her conscience," Rudenko told reporters in Moscow, as he was commenting at Interfax's request on the statement by von der Leyen, who said that Moscow was using food supplies as a weapon and called on Russia to establish dialogue on the transportation of grain out of Ukraine.

"We have repeatedly commented on the matter and said that a resolution of the food problem would require a comprehensive approach, including the lifting of sanctions imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions. That would also require Ukraine's demining of all ports where the ships are. Russia is ready to provide the necessary humanitarian passage, as it is doing every day," Rudenko said.

Rudenko said that possible Western escorts of bulkers carrying grain from Ukraine would seriously escalate the situation in the Black Sea.

"I believe that would seriously escalate the situation in the Black Sea region," he said in response to Interfax's question whether Russia would object to possible Western mediation of the kind.

Mass media said on Tuesday that London was planning to send ships to escort bulkers en route from Ukrainian ports.

"As I understand, the British Defense Ministry has refuted those reports," Rudenko said.

As to whether Russia allows for a possibility of international talks on the unblocking of Ukrainian seaports, he said, "We are interacting with the United Nations in those matters."

The issue was discussed in detail during the UN secretary general's visit to Moscow, Rudenko said.

"Further consultations on ways the UN could help with this situation are underway," he said.