Russian foreign minister says they are open for talks but reject West’s attempts at intimidation

Citing the fate of the 2014-15 Minsk agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for mediation between Russia and Ukraine, calling it empty posturing and an attempt to seek attention

August 25, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Russian Foreign Minister on French proposal for talks
Russian FM Sergey Lavrov. (Photo: Sputnik/Grigory Sisoev)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has reiterated Russia’s willingness to explore diplomatic channels to find a solution to the war in Ukraine but claimed that the West has deliberately chosen belligerence over meaningful negotiations, showing a complete lack of common sense, RT reported.  

Lavrov was speaking to the press after the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Thursday, August 24. He said, “We are always open for discussions, but we are not going to answer calls for discussions which involve boorish ultimatums, extortion, and threats against us.”

A peace conference was held in Saudi Arabia in the beginning of August at the initiative of Ukraine and Western countries. The conference discussed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s proposal which included demands such as complete Russian withdrawal from all Ukrainian territories, constitution of a war tribunal to try Russian leaders for alleged war crimes, and remuneration as preconditions to start a diplomatic process to resolve the crisis. Russia was not invited to the conference. 

Lavrov also said that the governments of European Union (EU) countries were behaving as agents of the US and had abandoned the interests of their own citizens and economies to serve its interests. 

He rejected French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for mediation between Russia and Ukraine, calling it empty posturing and an attempt to seek attention. “If someone wants to make a contribution to the search of a settlement, they do not use a microphone. It is done through appropriate channels,” he said. 

Macron had expressed his willingness to attend the 15th BRICS summit in South Africa and offered mediation. Lavrov, however, questioned France’s credibility to become a mediator given its record. France was one of the mediators of talks between Ukraine and Russia following the outbreak of the war in Donbass in 2014, which culminated in the Minsk accords 2014-15. Despite being approved by the UN Security Council, Ukraine refused to implement its contents and end the war in Donbass and provide it autonomy. 

Then French President Francios Hollande admitted last year that peace was not the intention behind the Minsk accords but they were initiated to buy time for Ukraine to be supplied with weapons to fight against Russia. 

Ever since the initial talks held in Istanbul last year were derailed, allegedly under Western pressure, Ukraine has refused to open any new channel for dialogue with Russia, reiterating that talks can only be initiated after Russia fulfills the pre-conditions under Zelensky’s formula. Russia has rejected the pre-conditions as “unrealistic and unacceptable.” 

In the past few months, several proposals have been floated by China, Brazil, and African nations but without any positive outcome.