The role of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich in Ukraine's negotiations with Russia has been exaggerated, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with journalist Dmytro Gordon on Aug 15.
While Kuleba said Abramovich was a “person with direct access” to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, he also said the Russian oligarch’s role in the process was overstated.
“Imagine you have a war and nothing is clear yet,” said Kuleba. “Then someone comes to you and says: “There is a person who has direct access to Putin.” Would you reject the services of such a person?... The president of Ukraine didn’t that reject either...”
“But Abramovich’s role in this process and the way it’s presented in the media is certainly exaggerated.”
Kuleba also spoke about his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Antalya through the mediation of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Kuleba noted that Lavrov was following the official line of Russian propaganda about “neo-Nazis” and appeared ill-at-ease. Kuleba said that during that meeting he had invited Lavrov to speak frankly, but the Russian official continued to repeat propaganda clichés.
"... In response, he simply began to spit out all the nonsense about "denazification", "demilitarization",” said Kuleba. “Before that meeting I thought that maybe he doesn’t actually believe in this propaganda, but just kind of rolls with it ... (But) after I left this meeting in Antalya,I was 100% convinced that he believes everything he says."
At the end of March, an adviser to the head of the President's Office and a member of the Ukrainian delegation at the talks, Mykhailo Podolyak, said that Abramovich is an "extremely effective mediator" in the negotiations and helps to "partially moderate the process." In April, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed that Abramovich was part of a Russian negotiating team and had visited Kyiv.
Financial Times’ sources stated that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin personally approved Abramovich's participation in the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal wrote that Zelenskyy asked his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden not to impose sanctions on the Russian oligarch because of his role as a middle man in the negotiations.
At the end of June, Mykhailo Podolyak said that a peace treaty with Russia is possible only when Ukraine restores its territorial integrity. President Zelenskyy has said that Ukraine is ready for negotiations only if Russia is ready to end the war.
And the head of Ukraine’s delegation for negotiating with Russia, David Arakhamia, said that Ukraine would be able to resume peace talks with Moscow once Ukraine strengthens its position thanks to a counter-offensive, and when the invaders return to their positions as of Feb.23.