High Russian diplomat dismisses hopes of negotiated finish to Ukraine battle

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Moscow sees no chance of a diplomatic resolution to finish the battle in Ukraine and expects an extended battle, a senior Russian diplomat has warned, as President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion reaches the six-month mark this week.

Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s everlasting consultant to the UN in Geneva, advised the Monetary Instances that the UN needs to be taking part in a much bigger function in makes an attempt to finish the battle and accused the US and different Nato nations of urgent Ukraine to stroll away from negotiations. There could be no direct talks between Putin and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he mentioned.

“Now, I don’t see any chance for diplomatic contacts,” Gatilov mentioned. “And the extra the battle goes on, the harder will probably be to have a diplomatic resolution.”

His remarks, which come regardless of a flurry of shuttle diplomacy in current weeks, are a blow to negotiators who had hoped {that a} current settlement on grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports might type the idea for a broader deal.

The UN has change into mired in “politicisation” due to the battle and that has “broken the authority of the UN and its organisations”, Gatilov mentioned. Because of this, it’s unable to behave successfully as a mediator, he complained.

“We do not need any contacts with the western delegations,” he mentioned of his day-to-day work in Geneva. “On the protocol facet we don’t see one another . . . Privately we do not need any contacts, sadly . . . we merely don’t discuss to one another.”

World diplomacy was within the worst state he had skilled in his 50-year profession, Gatilov added. “The world has modified and the UN won’t ever be the identical because it was earlier than,” he mentioned.

Russia invaded on February 24, in what Putin known as a “particular navy operation” to “denazify” Ukraine. It was condemned by western nations which imposed crippling sanctions on Moscow and severed ties. An preliminary try and seize Kyiv in a lightning assault was thwarted, forcing Moscow’s military to regroup and concentrate on an artillery-led marketing campaign within the east.

Bilateral ceasefire negotiations broke down after proof was found of battle crimes dedicated by occupying Russian troops in April. Moscow has denied the allegations.

The failure to restart peace talks, mixed with continued western navy assist for Ukraine, meant it was not possible to forecast how lengthy the battle might final, Gatilov mentioned: “And they also [Kyiv and its western supporters] will combat till the final Ukrainian.”

Gatilov, who served as deputy international minister earlier than being posted to Geneva in 2018, claimed that Moscow and Kyiv had been “very shut” to an settlement that would have paused the battle in negotiations hosted by Turkey in April. Individuals concerned within the talks have refuted this.

The UN and Turkey have sought to behave as intermediaries between Kyiv and Moscow, and had current success in brokering the deal on Ukraine’s grain exports.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and UN secretary-general António Guterres visited Volodymyr Zelenskyy this week in a bid to restart stalled peace talks © Ukrainian Presidency/dpa

However Gatilov mentioned it was “unlucky” that the UN was not taking part in a bigger function. “I believe [the grain deal] is the one instance that they performed a sensible function in making an attempt to mediate,” he mentioned. “It needs to be greater than that.”

Gatilov accused western nations of utilizing the state of affairs “as a matter of stress on Russia, as a software of isolation of Russia . . . damaging our place, economically, politically”.

“They don’t care concerning the Ukrainian folks, the Ukrainian troopers,” he mentioned.

Ukraine’s defence has been boosted by greater than $30bn value of weapons provides pledged by the US, UK and different Nato allies. Zelenskyy has beforehand mentioned that he noticed direct talks with Putin as the one approach to negotiate an finish to the battle, and solely after a Russian withdrawal from all Ukrainian territory captured since February.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser in Zelenskyy’s administration who participated within the failed peace talks, mentioned on Friday that “negotiating with the Russian Federation means . . . a deadly ending for everybody”.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has maintained relations with each Kyiv and Moscow for the reason that invasion, visited Putin in Sochi earlier this month and met Zelenskyy in Lviv final week alongside UN secretary-general António Guterres in an effort to behave as a mediator.

Erdoğan mentioned throughout his go to to Ukraine: “I proceed to have religion that the battle will finish on the negotiating desk. Mr Zelenskyy and Mr Putin are of the identical opinion.”

However that assertion didn’t seek advice from any new developments that would result in negotiations, in line with an individual conversant in the discussions.

Gatilov praised Erdoğan for “making an attempt his finest” to facilitate dialogue however dismissed hypothesis of direct talks between Putin and Zelenskyy, saying there “was not any sensible platform for having this assembly”.

He additionally accused Ukraine of “a transparent provocation” on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant which is occupied by Russian forces. Ukraine has blamed Russia for shelling the plant, whereas Nato has mentioned Russia is utilizing the nuclear website as a base from which to launch assaults.

“Russian troops are simply guarding it. Simply securing it. Why ought to we shell it?” Gatilov mentioned. Russia has agreed to an pressing security go to by the Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company to the plant.

Extra reporting by Roman Olearchyk and Mehul Srivastava in Kyiv

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