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Lavrov Contrasts China’s Diplomatic Approach to Zelenskyy’s ‘Peace Formula’ in Izvestia Interview

March 31—In a March 28 interview with Izvestia, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made available in English translation, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia would be ready to negotiate a settlement to the Ukraine conflict if its interests are respected. He added that China’s approach to mediating an agreement takes account of Russia’s interests, including lifting all sanctions against Russia, which also means those made prior to the conflict.

“On this foundation, it is necessary to come to terms on ensuring (this was the key expression) equal security for all participants in the process. This is our position,” the minister said. “It is possible to understand how to implement these principles only by taking seats at the negotiating table.”

Lavrov reiterated, “But this should be done not on the terms of the ‘peace formula’ that Zelenskyy and his bosses in Europe, London and the U.S. have long been pushing as an ultimatum. It is necessary to seriously analyze the existing security problems, accept realities on the ground and guarantee the lawful security interests of the Russian Federation. For our part, we are ready to guarantee the lawful security interests of the other participants in the process.”

Lavrov pointed out, “When China published its 12 item plan on settling the conflict in Ukraine in February 2023, we positively reacted to it. This Chinese document was based on the analysis of the reasons of the events and the need to remove them as distinct from Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s diplomatically insane ‘formula.’”

As for Türkiye’s proposal to Ukraine to hold the Istanbul-2 conference, Lavrov replied that “There was some talk about this proposal. We heard about it. UN Secretary-General António Guterres mentioned it as well. Russia explained that we are ready to discuss these proposals on conditions of reciprocity.”

Regarding the difficulty of dealing with Ukraine in negotiations, Lavrov replied: "I had two meetings with the ambassadors of the Global Majority in Moscow. Another meeting will be held in early April. We explained to them our assessments of the Ukraine situation and developments. The last time we talked was about two months ago, and we reviewed Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s formula. They asked us questions. I suggested that we focus on just one aspect of this formula—Russia must vacate Crimea, Donbass and Novorossiya and go back to the 1991 borders. First, in 1991, the Ukrainian S.S.R. seceded from the Soviet Union under the Declaration of Independence, which stated that Ukraine was a neutral and non-aligned state, was a good neighbor with all former republics, and respected human rights and the rights of ethnic minorities. None of this is the case now.

“Second, let’s hypothetically fantasize that Ukraine is back to its 1991 borders. Look up online what Ukrainian politicians and parliamentarians have been saying about their plans for the people who now live in Crimea, in the Lugansk and Donetsk Republics, in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. What they are calling for does not even sound like a ‘cleansing.’ There is one lady in the Verkhovna Rada who said that 25,000 people in Crimea should be executed for show. If this is what this formula is about, it is an invitation to genocide. Our colleagues from Africa, Asia and Latin America must understand where they are being invited.”

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