– Russian and Ukrainian negotiators held discussions on Friday, the head of Moscow’s delegation said, but Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said diplomatic efforts to end the war remained stalled.
Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky confirmed a TASS news report that “several long conversations” had been held but he gave no details. Earlier this week the Kremlin said Russia had submitted a new written proposal, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had neither seen nor heard about it.
It remains unclear whether the two sides can revive their faltering peace efforts, more than eight weeks after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
In separate comments on Friday, Lavrov, who has previously accused Kyiv of dragging out the peace process, sounded a downbeat note about the peace talks.
“They have now stalled because our latest proposal that was handed to the Ukrainian negotiators some five days ago and formulated taking into account the comments we received from them remains unanswered,” Lavrov told a briefing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told European Council President Charles Michel in a phone call earlier on Friday that Kyiv was showing it was not ready to seek mutually acceptable solutions and he accused the Ukrainian side of being “inconsistent” in the negotiations.
After making some apparent progress in March, the atmosphere around the peace talks soured over Ukrainian accusations that Russian troops carried out atrocities in a town near Kyiv as they withdrew from the area.
Russia has denied the accusations, saying they were designed to derail peace efforts and serve as a pretext for more Western sanctions against Moscow.
Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it calls a “special operation” to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it views as dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.