Sergey Lavrov tells Ukraine: Meet our proposals or Russian army will decide

Kyiv says it wants a summit to end the war but does not expect Moscow to participate

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country's proposals for the 'demilitarisation and denazification' of Ukraine are 'well known to the enemy'. EPA
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has issued an ultimatum to Ukraine to meet his country's proposals — including surrendering territory controlled by Russia — or allow their fate to be “decided by the Russian army”.

The warning was issued on Monday, the same day Ukraine’s Foreign Minister said his nation wanted a summit to end the war, although he did not expect Russia to take part.

“Our proposals for the demilitarisation and denazification of the territories controlled by the regime, the elimination of threats to Russia's security emanating from there, including our new lands, are well known to the enemy,” Mr Lavrov said, according to state news agency Tass.

“The point is simple: fulfil them for your own good. Otherwise, the issue will be decided by the Russian army.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday he was open to talks, although Ukraine and its western allies dismissed the offer as Moscow's forces battered Ukrainian towns with missiles and rockets.

Russia continues to demand that Ukraine recognises its conquest of a fifth of the country but Kyiv says it will fight until Mr Putin's forces withdraw.

Mr Lavrov said it was “objectively impossible” to maintain normal communication with US President Joe Biden and his US government.

“It is no secret to anyone that the strategic goal of the United States and its Nato allies is to defeat Russia on the battlefield as a mechanism for significantly weakening or even destroying our country,” Mr Lavrov said.

“It is objectively impossible to maintain normal communication with the Biden administration, which declares the infliction of a strategic defeat on our country as a goal.”

On Monday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told AP his government wanted a “peace” summit within two months at the UN, with Secretary General Antonio Guterres as mediator.

The UN was cautious in its response.

“As the Secretary General has said many times in the past, he can only mediate if all parties want him to mediate,” UN associate representative Florencia Soto Nino-Martinez said on Monday.

Mr Kuleba said Russia must face a war-crimes tribunal before his country directly talks with Moscow.

However, other nations should feel free to engage with Moscow, as happened before a grain agreement between Turkey and Russia, he said.

Mr Kuleba also said he was “absolutely satisfied” with the results of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the US last week.

He revealed that the US government had made a special plan to ensure the Patriot missile battery was operational in the country within six months. The training usually takes up to a year.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba during an interview with AP in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday. AP

Ukraine will do whatever it can to win the war in 2023, Mr Kuleba said.

“Every war ends in a diplomatic way,” he said. “Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state news agency RIA Novosti in reply that Russia “never followed conditions set by others. Only our own and common sense”.

Mr Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, calling it a “special operation” to “denazify” and demilitarise Ukraine, which he said was a threat to Russia.

Ukraine and the West have called the invasion an imperialist land grab.

The war is now in its 11th month, marked by many embarrassing Russian battlefield setbacks and Ukraine’s successful defence of most of its land.

In the latest attack to expose gaps in Russia's air defences, a drone believed to be Ukrainian penetrated hundreds of kilometres through Russian airspace on Monday, causing a deadly explosion at the main base for its strategic bombers.

Russian forces have been engaged for months in fierce fighting in the east and south of Ukraine, to defend the lands Moscow proclaimed it annexed in September and which make up the broader Ukrainian industrial Donbas region.

The Ukrainian top military command said on Monday that Russian forces carried out 19 attacks over the past day in the area.

Russia's defence ministry said it had advanced its positions in the region, and its missile troops and artillery had hit 63 Ukrainian units in the previous day.

In his nightly video message on Monday, Mr Zelenskyy called the situation along the front line in Donbas “difficult and painful”.

“Bakhmut, Kreminna and other areas in Donbas … require a maximum of strength and concentration,” he said.

“The occupiers are deploying all resources available to them — and these are considerable resources — to make some sort of advance.”

Updated: December 27, 2022, 6:09 AM
EDITOR'S PICKS