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Ukraine accuses Russia of trying to shift blame for war

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published May 14,2024

Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russia of attempting to shift blame to it for their ongoing war, which began over two years ago, by arguing that Kyiv had turned down an opportunity to end the conflict in 2022.

"Russians tried to shift the blame for the war in the middle of Europe from themselves, the aggressor, to Ukraine, the attacked country" by focusing the public on talks held in the Turkish metropolis Istanbul in the early stages of the war, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a video posted on X.

Kuleba said one of the "favorite lies promoted by Russia and its sympathizers" was that the two warring neighbors were on the cusp of a peace deal during the talks held in March 2022 but that it was rejected by Kyiv.

"They want people to forget that it was Russia that started the full scale war in February 2022, and instead focus on the talks at the end of March 2022," Kuleba said.

He claimed that Russia sought to press the narrative that it wanted to reach peace with Ukraine.

"Absurd. If Russia wanted peace, it should never have attacked Ukraine in the first place. Yes, it is true that Ukrainian and Russian delegations have met since the early days of the invasion ... But the positions were so far away and Russian demands were so bizarre that the prospect of a real solution was not even remotely in sight," he asserted.

Kuleba went on to say that the idea of talks between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin had also been discussed during the negotiations, but that Moscow rejected this idea.

He also flatly rejected claims that then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had visited Kyiv that year to urge Zelenskyy not to sign a peace deal with Russia, calling it a "very funny story."

"First, anyone who has ever met President Zelenskyy knows that he's not the person who can be pressured into any decision. Second, because the process of talks between delegations actually continued throughout April and even May, well beyond Johnson's visit, it doesn't really match the story, does it?"

He accused Putin of "ruining peace" in his country for over a decade, pointing to Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and seizure of Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, while later "obstructing" international peace efforts, followed by its launch of a "special military operation."

Urging continued support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, he said: "Only together can we stop Russia and put an end to its aggressive plans for the rest of Europe."

Russian officials, most recently the Kremlin, have accused Kyiv of not signing a draft agreement reached during the negotiations in Istanbul due to "direct pressure" from the UK, an allegation that then-British premier Johnson has also denied.

The claims particularly cite remarks from Ukrainian delegation chief David Arakhamia in a November 2023 interview with local media, which quoted him as saying that Johnson advised Kyiv against signing any agreements with Russia.