LONDON (Reuters) -Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying on Thursday that the goals of Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine were unchanged, but that they could be achieved through negotiations.
The comments to the Russian newspaper Izvestia were the latest in a series of statements this week stressing Moscow’s openness to talks – a change of tone that follows a run of humiliating defeats for Russian forces as the war in Ukraine nears the end of its eighth month.
“The direction has not changed, the special military operation continues, it continues in order for us to achieve our goals,” Peskov was quoted as saying. “However, we have repeatedly reiterated that we remain open to negotiations to achieve our objectives.”
Peskov added, however, that he did not see any prospects for talks with the West in the near future because of its “hostile” attitude towards Russia.
“It takes two sides to have a dialogue. As the West is now taking a very, very hostile stance towards us, it’s unlikely that there will be any such prospect in the near future,” – Peskov told Kazakhstan’s Khabar 24 TV channel, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
“Nevertheless, Turkey, as well as a number of other countries, continue to try to mediate in some way.”
While Russia has said before that it is prepared to negotiate, the repeated references this week to the possibility of dialogue are striking.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow was open to talks with the West, but the United States dismissed the statement as “posturing”.
Lavrov returned to the issue on Thursday, telling Izvestia: “We won’t run after anyone. If there are specific serious proposals, we’re ready to consider them.”
He added: “When we get some sort of signal, we will be ready to consider it.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has ruled out talking to President Vladimir Putin after Russia proclaimed the annexation of four Ukrainian regions last month and rained missiles on Ukrainian cities this week in the wake of an attack on a vital bridge between Russia and annexed Crimea.
(Reporting by Reuters; writing by Mark Trevelyan; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Kevin Liffey)