High Russian diplomat dismisses hopes of negotiated finish to Ukraine struggle

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Moscow sees no chance of a diplomatic resolution to finish the struggle 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, instructed the Monetary Occasions that the UN ought to be taking part in a much bigger function in makes an attempt to finish the battle and accused the US and different Nato international locations 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 it will likely be to have a diplomatic resolution.”

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

The UN has grow to be mired in “politicisation” due to the struggle 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 wouldn’t have 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 wouldn’t have any contacts, sadly . . . we merely don’t speak 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 referred to as a “particular army operation” to “denazify” Ukraine. It was condemned by western international locations 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 give attention to an artillery-led marketing campaign within the east.

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

The failure to restart peace talks, mixed with continued western army help for Ukraine, meant it was not possible to forecast how lengthy the battle may final, Gatilov mentioned: “And they also [Kyiv and its western supporters] will struggle 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 might have paused the battle in negotiations hosted by Turkey in April. Folks concerned within the talks have refuted this.

The UN and Turkey have sought to behave as intermediaries between Kyiv and Moscow, and had latest 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 feel [the grain deal] is the one instance that they performed a sensible function in attempting to mediate,” he mentioned. “It ought to be greater than that.”

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

“They don’t care in regards to 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 technique 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 struggle 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 might result in negotiations, in response to an individual conversant in the discussions.

Gatilov praised Erdoğan for “attempting 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.

Further reporting by Roman Olearchyk and Mehul Srivastava in Kyiv

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