UN chief meets Putin in Moscow as Russia says Ukraine has been ‘inconsistent’ in peace talks


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Moscow on Monday, where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin following his February invasion of Ukraine, said Eri Kaneko, deputy spokesman for the UN chief.

Uterres will also have a working meeting and lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Kaneko told reporters.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators held talks on Friday, the head of the Moscow delegation said, but Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said diplomatic efforts to end the war have stalled.

Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky confirmed a report by the TASS news agency that “several lengthy talks” had been held, but gave no details. Earlier this week, the Kremlin said Russia had submitted a new written proposal, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had neither seen nor heard of it.

It remains unclear whether both sides can restart their stalled peace efforts, more than eight weeks after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

In separate comments on Friday, Lavrov, who previously accused Kyiv of dragging out the peace process, expressed pessimism about the peace talks.

“They are now stalled because our latest proposal, which was handed to the Ukrainian negotiators about five days ago and formulated taking into account the comments they received, remains unanswered,” Lavrov said in a briefing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a phone call with European Council President Charles Michel on Friday that Kyiv was showing it was unwilling to seek mutually acceptable solutions and accused the Ukrainian side of being “inconsistent in the negotiations.” ” to be.

After some apparent progress had been made in March, the atmosphere around the peace talks deteriorated over Ukrainian allegations that Russian troops had committed atrocities in a town near Kyiv while withdrawing from the area.

Russia has denied the allegations, saying they are designed to derail peace efforts and serve as a pretext for further Western sanctions against Moscow.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 in what it calls a “special operation” to weaken its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and root out people it sees as dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces put up fierce resistance, and the West imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia to force it to withdraw its forces.

Britain’s Boris Johnson has been accused of breaking a promise to do whatever it takes to ensure “Putin fails in Ukraine” by wanting a post-Brexit trade deal with India.

Opposition parties lashed out after the prime minister admitted he had not tried to persuade India to abandon its neutral stance on Russia – as he pressed the accelerator for a deal.

Last month, No. 10 insisted on pressuring “all world leaders” to join a global push to ensure that the misery in Ukraine “cannot continue and that Putin fails in what he is trying to do.”

But in New Delhi, after talks between Mr Johnson and Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, both sides agreed that “no pressure” had been put on India’s alliance with Moscow.

Britain will allow payments to Gazprombank and its subsidiaries for gas going to European Union countries until the end of May, a Finance Ministry document showed on Friday.

Britain last month imposed sanctions on Gazprombank, giving counterparties until April 23 to settle their deals with the lender, which is one of the main channels for payments for Russian oil and gas.

However, under a new license released late Thursday, the UK Treasury said payments to Gazprombank for gas purchased in the EU within the framework of pre-March 21

Russian gas accounts for around 40% of EU imports. Brussels has not officially discussed ending Russian gas imports as part of its actions against Moscow in the Ukraine conflict, as the bloc relies on them.

“It appears to be a retreat from the UK government,” said Ana Stanic, energy lawyer at E&A Law.

Britain said the short term of the new Gazprombank license reflects its desire to support a smooth transition away from Russian gas and that its sanctions licenses are under constant review.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Office did not respond to requests for comment.

A week after Britain imposed the sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree that from April Russian gas supplies must be paid for in rubles and cleared with Gazprombank, where payments in euros or dollars would be converted into Russian currency.

“With many major Gazprom gas contract holders based or operating in the UK, sanctioning Gazprombank was a real concern,” James Huckstepp, manager of gas analysis at S&P Global Platts, said in a tweet, adding that the new license has been temporarily relaxed be these worries.

The EU has not sanctioned Gazprombank or Russian gas, and the European Commission said in an advisory document released on Thursday that Moscow’s ruble proposal does not necessarily prevent a payment process that could match EU sanctions.

Russian energy giant Gazprom continues to ship natural gas to Europe via Ukraine to meet European consumer demands, according to the gas producer.

Gazprom declined to comment on the new UK license.

Many big energy companies have trading subsidiaries in the UK, and entities like these are likely to manage contracts with Gazprom, said Tom Marzec-Manser, head of gas analytics at ICIS.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday there had been no changes to Russia’s timetable to get foreign firms to pay for gas in rubles after Britain’s Gazprombank received a new license.

Peskov said all payment schedules were set out in Putin’s presidential decree at the end of March, and the settlements should be made in accordance with that order.

On Monday, Peskov said there was still time for “unfriendly” countries to switch to ruble payments for gas, which are due in May. UN chief meets Putin in Moscow as Russia says Ukraine has been ‘inconsistent’ in peace talks

Fry Electronics Team

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