May 31, 2023

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Russia says a ceasefire in Ukraine now will not achieve Moscow’s goals

March 31 (Reuters) – Russia said on Friday that a ceasefire in Ukraine would not enable it to achieve the goals of its “special military operation” for now.

The Kremlin’s response came after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko – Russia’s closest ally – called for an immediate ceasefire, without preconditions, and for both Moscow and Kiev to start negotiations on a permanent peace settlement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia had noted Lukashenko’s comments and that President Vladimir Putin would discuss them with him next week. But he said Russia’s goals in Ukraine could not be achieved at the moment by stopping the fighting.

“With regard to Ukraine, nothing changes, the special military operation continues, because today this is the only means in front of us to achieve our goals,” Peskov said.

He said that parts of the Chinese-proposed plan for peace in Ukraine “are not achievable at present, due to the unwillingness – or rather the inability – of the Ukrainian side to disobey their superiors and leaders”.

This was a reference to Moscow’s unsubstantiated allegations that Ukraine’s Western backers had ordered Kiev not to seek a cease-fire.

“These leaders, as we know, are not sitting in Kiev and insisting on continuing the war,” Peskov said.

Russia said it was open to peace, but made clear that this would only be on its own terms. It says Kiev must accept the “new realities” on the ground, as Russia has seized and claimed to have annexed more than a sixth of Ukraine’s territory.

Ukraine has said Russia should withdraw its forces as a prelude to any peace deal, and says any temporary ceasefire would only allow Russia to regroup in preparation for future military action.

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Moscow says the United States and its allies are using Ukraine as part of a “hybrid war” aimed at strategically defeating Russia. Ukraine and the West say Russia’s allegations are a baseless pretext to justify its invasion.

Reporting by Reuters. Editing by Kevin Levy and Mark Trevelyan

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