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Ukraine criticizes calls for talks with Russia as ‘uninformed or misled’

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Ukraine on Thursday criticized calls for Kyiv to hold negotiations with Russia, following reports its allies were pushing for talks in the wake of a underwhelming Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Twenty-one months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the sprawling frontline is largely static in the wake of major offensives by both Ukrainian and Russian forces.

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“Those who argue that Ukraine should negotiate with Russia now are either uninformed or misled,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on social media.

“Or they side with Russia and want (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to take a pause before an even larger aggression,” he added.

He said Kyiv had held hundreds of rounds of talks with Moscow since 2014, when Russian-backed separatists took control of swathes of eastern Ukraine and Moscow unilaterally annexed the Crimean peninsula.

The talks, which were mediated by Germany and France and which led to a face-to-face meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Paris in 2019, failed to bring lasting peace.

Kuleba added that none of those negotiations “prevented Putin from launching a brutal all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.”

Ukrainian and Russian delegations met in the early stages of the war but Zelenskyy called off talks after the discovery of atrocities in the town of Bucha and other towns near Kyiv in spring 2022.

Zelenskyy said last week that Ukraine was “not ready” for talks with Russia unless Moscow’s troops withdraw.

He has also refused talks as long as Putin remains in power.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday: “It is high time for everyone in Kyiv and Washington to realize that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield.”

He also said dialogue was “badly needed” and that Moscow was “certainly ready to get started on it.”

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