Now at over half-a-dozen rounds to talks in, Ukraine and Russia seem no closer to achieving an end to the crisis at the negotiating table from when they first started - but possibly for some involved, that kind of stalling could be precisely the point.
At Istanbul talks from last week, the Russian side initially said it got a "clearly articulated position" from the Ukrainians, based chiefly in Kiev offering neutrality on NATO, and non-aligned, non-nuclear status. S&P futures jumped on the Kremlin revealing that Ukraine had presented a new draft agreement the day prior - but then dumped on Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a series of fresh Thursday statements further revealing that "provisions in draft agreements presented to Russian negotiators by Ukraine on Wednesday differ from those outlined at the talks in Istanbul late last month," according to Interfax.
Lavrov charged that Ukraine and its Western backers are seeking to "draw out and undermine talks" - something ironically which Ukrainian side has in the recent past accused Moscow of doing. He claimed that Washington is pushing Zelensky to continue fighting. Here are his words as presented in state media:
"Yesterday the Ukrainian side presented its draft agreements to our negotiators which showed a clear departure from key provisions which were committed to at the meeting in Istanbul on 29 March. These provisions, moreover, were fixed in the document signed by David Arakhamia, the head of the Ukrainian delegation," Lavrov said in a video address Thursday.
The Russian top diplomat then quickly called the new, divergent proposals that Moscow reviewed "unacceptable" - rejecting them outright. He explained they proposed to discuss the status of Crimea and Donbas - the latter where Russian forces currently appear to be concentrating most of their military efforts. Specifically he pointed out that future security guarantees for Ukraine excludes Russian control over Crimea and Sevastopol.
Yesterday, Lavrov suggested the West is using "hysteria" over war crimes allegations to hinder any progress at the negotiating table...
Lavrov: “Peace Talks with Ukraine not progressing was fast as we would’ve wanted. West trying hard to derail it by sparking a hysteria over “war crimes.” It’s their call. Russia is ready for whatever.” pic.twitter.com/NknxDQ4IPW— Joseph C. Okechukwu (@jcokechukwu) April 6, 2022
Lavrov went on to say in the Thursday comments that Russia will prepare and promote its own proposals at the next round of Ukraine talks which are said to be "dragging along" but with a "long road ahead".