Russia says lifting of sanctions part of peace talks with Ukraine


April 30, Reuters -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the lifting of sanctions on Russia is part of the peace talks with Ukraine, but senior Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak denied that this was the case.

The Russian and Ukrainian delegations are discussing a draft of a possible treaty on a daily basis via video-conferencing, according to the official Xinhua news agency of China, published on Saturday by the Russian foreign ministry.

The agenda includes denazification, recognition of new geopolitical realities, the lifting of sanctions, the status of the Russian language, amongst other things, Lavrov said.

But Podolyak said that Ukraine did not need lessons in denazification or use of the Russian language from those who had attacked and occupied Ukrainian towns and cities, and that Lavrov had not attended a single negotiating round.

In remarks cited by the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, he said that the issue of international sanctions against the Russian Federation is not discussed at all within the framework of the Russia-Ukraine negotiations.

It is for all of our partners, together with Ukraine, to decide what decisions should be taken on sanctions and when. Zelenskiy insists that Western sanctions on Russia need to be strengthened and can't be part of negotiations since the invasion began on February 24.

Kyiv warned on Friday that the talks on ending Russia's invasion, now in its third month, are in danger of collapse.

Since March 29, there has been no face-to-face peace talks, and the atmosphere has soured over Ukrainian allegations that Russian troops have carried out atrocities as they withdraw from areas near Kyiv. Moscow has denied the claims.

We are in favor of continuing the negotiations, although they are difficult, said Lavrov.

Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a special operation to demilitarise its neighbour and rid it of the extreme anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

Ukraine's Western allies have frozen half of Moscow's state gold and foreign currency reserves and imposed strict restrictions on trade with Russia, hammering its economy and putting it on the brink of a sovereign default.