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Russia and Ukraine must talk – EU state’s leader

The West should support Kiev, but also “think about how the conflict could end,” Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has said

The Ukraine conflict can only be resolved if Russia is present at the negotiating table, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has said.

In an interview with the French daily Le Figaro on Friday, the chancellor reiterated that the West should continue to be in “full solidarity” with Kiev and support it in its fight against Russia. However, Nehammer said “it is also important to think about how the conflict could end.”

The Austrian leader noted that when he went to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in April 2022, several weeks into the conflict, Moscow and Kiev were still engaged in direct talks.

”This is no longer the case today, because Russia shows no desire to negotiate. But without the Russian Federation there will be no peace,” he said, adding that the situation remains difficult. “But the resumption of a dialogue, when the day comes, is a necessity,” he stressed.

Moscow and Kiev held several rounds of talks early on in the conflict, which revolved around Ukrainian neutrality. While the negotiations initially made some headway, Kiev later walked away. Moscow has claimed that the peace process was derailed by then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who advised Ukraine to keep fighting, which Johnson has denied.

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Russia also maintains that it is open to new talks with Kiev. However, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree banning all negotiations with the current leadership in Moscow after four former Ukrainian territories voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining Russia in autumn 2022.

Meanwhile, Nehammer has said he has some disagreements regarding support for Ukraine with French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently stated that he cannot rule out the possibility of putting NATO troops on the ground in the embattled country.

The chancellor noted that while he and Macron believe in the need to support Ukraine and that Moscow and Kiev should eventually engage in diplomacy, they are at odds over the way to achieve this.

”I am in favor of the precautionary principle. The French president is a supporter of the principle of deterrence,” Nehammer said, acknowledging that some elements of this approach are “convincing” given what he called Russia’s “aggressiveness.”

“However, I also think that we must apply the precautionary principle to avoid an uncontrollable escalation,” he added.

In a rare phone call earlier this week, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu warned his French counterpart, Sebastien Lecornu, that Paris would only “create problems for itself” if it decides to send troops to Ukraine.

April 06, 2024 at 08:25PM

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