Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow won’t enter into negotiations with Ukraine to end the war, even after suffering a series of battlefield setbacks.
The Kremlin won’t discuss Ukraine’s demands that it withdraw from occupied lands and pay reparations, Lavrov said in an interview with the state-run news service RIA Novosti published Thursday. He earlier this week said Ukraine should cede sovereignty over territories annexed by Russia since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Feb. 24 invasion.
The United Nations has condemned Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of four partially-occupied regions of east and south Ukraine after Putin signed orders in September absorbing them into his country.
Ukrainian forces are steadily reclaiming the territories as they push Russian troops back with the aid of billions of dollars of U.S. and European weapons. Even so, there are indications the war may extend well into next year, after Russia recently mobilized some 300,000 reservists.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with the Associated Press Monday that his country wants to hold a peace summit in February, but he doesn’t anticipate Russia taking part. Kyiv is ready to hold direct talks with Moscow only after Russia faces a war-crimes tribunal, he said.
Lavrov said in his interview that Russia won’t submit to any tribunal.
Russia on Thursday unleashed another large-scale barrage of missile attacks across Ukraine, continuing its campaign of bombarding energy and other infrastructure in a so-far unsuccessful bid to crush Ukrainians’ fighting spirit.
With the war now in its 11th month, Putin admitted last week that Russian forces face an “extremely difficult” situation in the four occupied regions. In November, Russia was forced to retreat from the southern city of Kherson, the only regional capital it had occupied during the war.
Still, he told top military officials that Russia has “no limitations” on military spending for the war.
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