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Kremlin intensifies negotiation stance, seeks concessions from West

Kremlin intensifies negotiation stance, seeks concessions from West Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (photo: Getty Images)

In Moscow, a new round of escalating rhetoric has begun regarding negotiations on Ukraine, which is likely an attempt to pressure the West into making concessions on Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

During the week, two high-ranking Russian officials made statements regarding the Kremlin's readiness for negotiations on Ukraine.

In a press release from the Russian Ministry of Defense about a conversation between the head of the department, Sergey Shoigu, and his French counterpart, Sebastien Lecornu, it was stated that there was purportedly readiness for dialogue on Ukraine. The starting point for this dialogue could allegedly be the 2022 negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Turkiye.

At the same time, a source in the French government denied this information. "At no moment did [France] show any willingness to dialogue on Ukraine or negotiations," said the interlocutor of the Reuters agency.

The next day, on April 4, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also contributed to information operations, pretending to be interested in negotiations, according to the Institute.

Lavrov used a meeting with dozens of foreign ambassadors from non-Western countries to criticize Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's peace formula, stating that Russia is ready to negotiate on terms beneficial to the Kremlin.

Following the meeting, Lavrov told journalists that Russia considers it unnecessary to talk to Zelenskyy and should negotiate with the West, which, however, is not ready for them.

ISW reminded that Russian officials have repeatedly falsely accused Ukraine and the West of lacking initiatives for peaceful negotiations, despite their numerous statements indicating that Russia is not interested in sincere negotiations with Ukraine.

"ISW continues to assess that Russia’s maximalist objectives – which are tantamount to full Ukrainian and Western surrender – remain unchanged and that any Russian statements suggesting that Russia is interested in peace negotiations are very likely efforts to force the West to make concessions on Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity," the report said.

Statement by Shoigu on negotiations and reaction to it in France

On April 3, French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu held a telephone conversation with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. This conversation between the heads of the departments was the first since October 2022.

In Russia, after the conversation, it was stated that Paris expressed readiness to engage in dialogue on Ukraine or discuss possible peace negotiations. France unofficially denied this statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron was surprised by Shoigu's assumption about Paris's alleged involvement in the recent terrorist attack at the Crocus City Hall near Moscow.