Espreso. Global

It is important for Russia to keep its 'peacemaker' position to Global South - Vitaly Portnikov

6 December, 2023 Wednesday

Russia again offers Ukraine negotiations, as it tries to maintain its position as a 'peacemaker' in the face of the Global South and those EU states that still want to restore ties with it


Russia is once again talking about a window of negotiations with Ukraine: a high-ranking source cited by Izvestia, usually someone from the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin, emphasized that Russia is ready to hold talks with Ukraine, including in a Western country.

By and large, these words are a response to the proposal of Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, who emphasized that Hungary continues to offer its mediation functions to Russia and Ukraine to resolve the situation that has developed since the start of the full-scale invasion. At the same time, Izvestia emphasizes that despite the possibility of holding talks in a European country such as Hungary or even Slovakia, it is still more realistic to create a platform for Russian-Ukrainian negotiations in a neutral country that is not a member of NATO or the EU.

Among these countries, the Russian propaganda outlet's experts mention India, which takes a neutral position in the conflict: it maintains good relations with both the West and the Russian Federation.

How serious are these signals from Moscow? Obviously, Russia does not see any real need to start negotiations with Ukraine now, of course, if we are talking about real negotiations, not capitulation, which should lead to the disappearance of the Ukrainian state from the political map of the world. It is no coincidence that Izvestia recalls all these demands to Ukraine that were put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin before the start of the so-called special operation. They include not only Ukraine's recognition of the fact that its territory has been occupied by Russia and that these territories have been annexed by Russia, but also the so-called demilitarization and denazification, i.e. the creation of conditions for the complete disarmament of Ukraine with the subsequent occupation of the entire territory of our country by the aggressor state.

But for Russia, what is important now is to maintain its position as a 'peacemaker' in the eyes of the countries of the so-called Global South. As is well known, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not rule out the possibility of negotiations with Ukraine during his speech at the G20 summit, but the main focus of this speech was not on Russia's war against Ukraine or negotiations between the two hostile states.

Putin spoke primarily about the Middle East, and in the absence of U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, tried to act as the main defender of Arab and Muslim interests before Western powers. He tried his best to make his audience realize that it is Russia that is currently protecting the civilian population of the Gaza Strip from Israeli actions, while the West is guided by obvious "double standards."

But in order to prevent Russia from being compared to Western countries by its friends in the global south, Putin needs to prove that in the war against Ukraine, he is not acting as an aggressor, but as a peacemaker who is always offering the other side peace talks, which Ukraine itself refuses. Izvestia points out that it is unclear who to negotiate with, since the Ukrainian side has forbidden itself to conduct such a process, and the West does not agree to Russia's negotiations with Ukraine because it wants to "fight to the last Ukrainian," as Russian propaganda always says.

Thus, the negotiations, which are now being promoted by the Russians as their state's position, are simply a smokescreen for continuing the brutal war against Ukraine. This smokescreen is also needed to keep the favor of those countries in the European Union that still hope for better relations with the Russian Federation or have special contacts with this country. The first of these countries is Hungary. The Hungarian foreign minister, who is again offering his mediation services, is the only EU foreign minister who regularly visits Moscow, even after Russia's so-called major attack on Ukraine. And, of course, when Mr. Szijjártó again says that he is ready to mediate to end Russia's war against Ukraine and supports the point of his Prime Minister Viktor Orban that he is sure that the line pursued by the West in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is wrong, the Kremlin will not openly tell Szijjártó that they do not need his services and do not take him seriously at all, no.

On the contrary, Russia will support any diplomatic proposal of those who are ready to restore economic and political ties with this country, and at the same time will do everything possible and impossible to ensure that no real political process takes place.

Moreover, Vladimir Putin is obviously not interested in this political process at this time: he may hope that events in the Middle East and internal political strife in the United States itself create a much more convenient position for him to continue to exert forceful pressure on Ukraine. It is no coincidence that the article in Izvestia appeared just as it became known that the Russian president is going to visit the Middle East for the first time since the beginning of his so-called special operation against the Ukrainian state to discuss the problems associated with the conflict in the Middle East, as well as joint energy approaches of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and the Russian Federation.

Also, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi is going to visit Moscow, which may indicate a new phase of fruitful military, technical and political cooperation between the two countries, which are trying to create serious challenges for Western countries and force them to make concessions to Moscow and Tehran, both in the post-Soviet space and in the Middle East.


About the author. Vitaly Portnikov, journalist, winner of the Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

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