Russia says Ukraine needs'meaningful steps' before talks

Russia says Ukraine needs'meaningful steps' before talks

Moscow says Kiev needs to take meaningful steps before any serious talks can take place.

If the Ukrainian side offers meaningful steps that would make direct talks worth it, that possibility will be considered, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday. Kiev has promised to immediately retake any territory under Russian control with the help of weapons from the West, and has threatened to withdraw from the peace negotiations altogether.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko told reporters that conditions are not yet in place for a face-to- face meeting between Russian and Ukrainian delegations.

This issue will be considered as soon as we have meaningful agreements on which a substantive exchange of views can be held. Such a thing doesn't exist yet, Rudenko told reporters.

The two sides met on March 29 in Istanbul, Turkey. The documents Ukraine sent to Russia deviated from what had been agreed upon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on April 7 that Kiev was not negotiating in good faith.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the talks would be off if a pseudo-referendum is announced in any new pseudo-republics of Ukraine, or if the remnants of the neo-Nazi Azov unit is trapped in the Azovstal steel factory, who claim they are accompanied by women and children there.

Zelensky, who met with the US foreign and defense ministers over the weekend, vowed to keep fighting Russia, as part of a bid to get more weapons from the West.

It will not be a matter of eight years, like from 2014, it will be immediate. If we have enough of them, we will immediately begin to recapture the occupied territory, he said.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements that were first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied it plans to retake the two republics by force.