The Kremlin is ready for peace talks at “any moment,” Russia’s envoy to Britain Andrei Kelin told Al Arabiya in an interview on Thursday.
“Peace talks started in April last year, but then US and UK decided that Ukraine should fight and they just stopped the peace talks, and the president of Ukraine has made a decree that there will not be peace talks. This we cannot understand,” Kelin said.
In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a possibility of holding peace talks, which were at the time dismissed by Kyiv as a ploy following the continued bombardment of Ukraine energy grids.
The UN General Assembly will vote next week on a draft resolution stressing “the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace” in line with the founding United Nations Charter.
It repeats its demands that Moscow withdraw its troops and calls for a halt to hostilities. The 193-member General Assembly is likely to vote next Thursday after two days of speeches by dozens of states to mark the February 24 anniversary of the start of the war.
“Ukraine has become a real danger for Russia,” ambassador Kelin claimed. “It has a big military potential, and we have to reduce this potential. We want to make Ukraine a normal nation, in which all nationalities are living in equal terms,” he said.
As the one-year-anniversary of the war in Ukraine nears, the “special military operation” – Russia’s preferred nomenclature for its invasion – will continue until “we achieve our goals,” said Kelin.
“The common goal is to stop the discrimination and killing of Russians,” he added. Putin is on a mission to “denazify” Ukraine while simultaneously accusing Western nations of waging a “proxy war” against it by arming Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Moscow.
“We have already destroyed all tanks that have been in Ukraine before, we have destroyed all tanks that have been sent from different countries… and we are going to destroy new tanks when they arrive; as well as the jets,” Kelin said.
Western countries that have provided Ukraine with arms have so far refused to send fighter jets or long-range weapons capable of striking deep inside Russia.
This has not stopped Ukraine from sharing a shopping list of combat jets, long-range missiles and heavy tanks. Britain has offered to train Ukrainian pilots on Western jets, while Poland and Slovakia are considering sending more of the Soviet-designed Mig-29 fighters that Kyiv already uses.
Ukraine’s allies are nervous that deploying advanced Western fighter jets would provoke a further escalation by Moscow and risk open conflict between NATO and Russia.
Russia unleashed a massive attack across Ukraine on Thursday using drones and missiles, hitting critical infrastructure and using balloons – a move Ukrainian officials call a distraction tactic. At least one person was killed in the attacks.
“The frontline is now more or less stable, but we have to gain more because not totally Donetsk under control,” the Russian diplomat told Al Arabiya.
The Luhansk and Donetsk regions make up the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland, now partially occupied by Russia, according to reports.
Russia’s main effort has been an artillery and ground onslaught on the city of Bakhmut, in Donetsk, Reuters reported on Thursday. Ukrainian military analysts said Russian troops had launched several unsuccessful attacks on villages to the north and south of Bakhmut over the past day.