Russia-Ukraine Talks Difficult, Kiev Constantly Changing Positions, Lavrov Says

© REUTERS / VALENTYN OGIRENKOSmoke rises from the territory of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry's unit, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Kiev, Ukraine February 24, 2022.
Smoke rises from the territory of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry's unit, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Kiev, Ukraine February 24, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.03.2022
On Tuesday, Russian deputy representative to the United Nations Dmitri Polyansky suggested that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's recent statements contradict one another, making negotiations difficult.
Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are proceeding with difficulty due to constant flip-flopping by the Ukrainian side, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.
"When, in the midst of Russia's special military operation the Ukrainian leadership proposed negotiations, we agreed, and the president immediately gave the order. Negotiations began but have been difficult because the Ukrainian side, although it seems to have expressed understanding of the things that should be agreed during talks, is constantly changing its position, rejecting its own proposals," Lavrov said in a speech it MGIMO, Russia's top diplomatic school, on Wednesday.

"It's difficult not to have the impression that they are being held by the hand by their American colleagues, whom, if one reads political scientists both in our country and the West, simply don't want this [negotiations] process to be completed quickly. They expect to keep pumping weapons into Ukraine. Apparently, they want to keep us in a state of hostilities as long as possible," the foreign minister said.

Moscow, Lavrov said, requires "reinforced concrete" agreements with Kiev in the future so that no forces are ever tempted to violate them. The minister also said Russia was not against Western countries' eagerness to play some kind of mediating role in the current crisis. "But we have absolutely clear red lines, which we have been talking about for many years," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov  - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.03.2022
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Lavrov suggested that current Western moves, such as the provision of advanced anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine, will surely have a blowback effect, among them deliveries of "additional Stingers, which are a colossal threat, because they will undoubtedly spread all over Europe."

NATO "Peacekeepers" = Direct Conflict With Russia

The foreign minister also commented on the prospects of a NATO "peacekeeping force" in Ukraine, warning that such a move would lead to direct clashes with Russian forces.
"Our Polish colleagues have already declared that a NATO summit will take place and that peacekeeping forces need to be sent. I hope they understand what's at stake here. This will lead to the direct clash between Russian and NATO troops that everyone hoped to avoid, and said that this must never take place in principle," Lavrov said.
Lavrov also brought up the topic of US-financed biological laboratories in the former USSR, saying the Pentagon's interest in Soviet-era biolabs in Kazakhstan "requires clarification."
"We are now completing the preparation of a memorandum of cooperation in the field of biology with our Kazakh friends...I hope that we will resolve these issues with Kazakhstan," he said.
Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, holds documents as speaks during the U.N. Security Council meeting discussing the Russian and Ukraine conflict at the United Nations Headquarters on March 11, 2022 in New York City.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.03.2022
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Russia Requires 'Balance of Interests'

Commenting on Western countries' move to seize over $300 billion in assets from Russia's reserve cushion, which wound up in Western countries for reasons as yet unclear, Lavrov characterised the freeze as plain "theft".
"When the central bank's reserves were frozen, no one among those who predicted what sanctions the West might apply could even think of this. It's just theft," Lavrov said.
In the future, Lavrov said, Russia must not depend on the West as it has in the past, but be ready to cooperate on equal terms. "[We need] clarity which will be based on the absence of any dependence on the West in the future. If they want to cooperate, of course we will not step back from this, if it is based on an equal footing, in both our interests, if there is a balance of interests."
"But opening the doors to them, so that they enter those sectors on which the functioning of key sectors of our economy - vital to the health, security of our people and our country will again depend - I believe we have no right to do this," Lavrov said.
Russia, the minister suggested, has sufficient material resources and talented people to be self-sufficient. "We have a huge country, resources, brains, everything we need to be self-sufficient, but at the same time open up to the outside world for mutually beneficial projects."
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about assistance the U.S. government is providing to Ukraine amid Russia's invasion of the neighboring country, in the Eisenhower Office Building's South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 16, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.03.2022
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