Putin tells Lula Russia is open to dialogue on Ukraine

·3-min read

President Vladimir Putin has told his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a call that Russia is open to dialogue over Ukraine, the Kremlin says, shortly after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed a Chinese peace envoy to Moscow.

Russia has repeatedly said it was open to resuming peace talks with Ukraine, which stalled a few months after Russia invaded Ukraine early last year, and has welcomed mediation efforts from both Brazil and China.

But it has insisted that any negotiations must be based on "new realities", meaning its declared annexation of four Ukrainian provinces that it largely or partly controls - a condition unacceptable to officials in Kyiv.

China for its part signed a "no limits" partnership with Russia less than three weeks before the invasion, and has not only refrained from criticising Russia but also dramatically expanded its Russian energy imports since the start of the war.

It has put forward a 12-point plan for peace in Ukraine that involves declaring a ceasefire but does not stipulate that Russia should withdraw from any of the territory it has seized.

In his meeting with Li Hui, Lavrov expressed gratitude for China's "balanced position" and willingness to play a positive role, his ministry said.

Lula has also pitched himself as a peace broker and proposed, in line with Brazil's tradition of non-intervention and neutrality, that a group of countries not involved in the war should engage both Russia and Ukraine in talks.

"I reiterated Brazil's willingness, along with India, Indonesia and China, to talk to both sides of the conflict in pursuit of peace," he tweeted.

Lula has condemned the invasion but he irritated the United States - and pleased Russia - last month when he suggested Ukraine's allies had been "encouraging" war by sending it weapons.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy did not meet Lula when both men attended a G7 summit in Japan last weekend, despite finding time to speak to an array of other leaders.

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev, a hawkish senior ally of Putin's, was quoted on Friday as saying Russia could not trust any truce with Ukraine's current leadership and would therefore have to destroy the "very nature" of power in Kyiv.

A deal allowing the safe wartime export of grain and fertilizer from Ukrainian Black Sea ports has not yet resumed full operations, the United Nations said on Friday, having come to a halt before Russia's decision last week to extend it.

The pact called the Black Sea Grain Initiative, brokered by the UN and Turkey last July with Russia and Ukraine to try to ease a global food crisis, covers three ports but no ships have been authorised to travel to Pivdennyi (Yuzhny) port since April 29, the UN said.

The UN and Turkey "are working closely with the rest of the parties with the aim to resume full operations... and lift all impediments that obstruct operations and limit the scope of the Initiative," the UN said in a statement.

Ukraine accused Russia on Tuesday of effectively cutting Pivdennyi port out of the Black Sea deal as Russia complained that it had been unable to export ammonia via a pipeline to Pivdennyi under the agreement.

The UN said on Friday that the Black Sea deal also provides for the exports of fertiliser, including ammonia, but "there have been no such exports so far".