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Russia must be involved in Ukraine talks – EU member

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has said he is ready to meet with President Vladimir Putin “if it helps”

Russia must be present at talks aimed at resolving the Ukraine conflict, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has said. He also signaled that he would be willing to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin if it could potentially produce results.

Speaking at a special Ukraine summit in Paris attended by 21 Western leaders on Monday, Nehammer stressed the need to show “full solidarity” with Kiev, adding that “more” should be done to settle the crisis.

While suggesting that the international community must signal to Putin that his campaign against Ukraine “is leading the Russian Federation and him into a dead end,” the chancellor advocated for diplomatic engagement with Moscow.

”Putin also has to be at the negotiating table, because otherwise we won’t achieve peace,” he said, adding that he would not rule out talks with the Russian president “if they are useful, if it helps.”

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FILE PHOTO: Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico.
EU member warns West could cause ‘worst-case scenario’ in Ukraine

Nehammer was the last Western leader to hold a face-to-face meeting with Putin in Moscow, which took place in April 2022, several weeks into the Ukraine conflict. “This is not a friendly visit,” the chancellor said at the time, adding that he warned the Russian leader that the West would continue to tighten sanctions until the conflict is over.

The chancellor also urged the member states of BRICS, which recently underwent an unprecedented expansion, to become “more closely involved” in the Ukraine crisis to put pressure on Russia. None of the members of the group, which accounts for around 30% of global GDP, has supported sanctions against Moscow.

Since the start of the conflict in February 2022, Russia has maintained that it is open to talks with Ukraine. However, President Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree banning all negotiations with the current leadership in Moscow. The move came after four former Ukrainian regions voted overwhelmingly to join Russia in referendums.

Kiev has put forward a ten-point ‘peace formula’, demanding that Russia withdraw its troops from the territory Ukraine claims as its own, and that a tribunal be established to prosecute Moscow for alleged war crimes. Russia has dismissed the initiative as “detached from reality,” boycotting several rounds of talks on the matter.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last month that any talks should be held with Ukraine’s Western sponsors.

February 27, 2024 at 01:28PM

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