The Russian foreign minister claims the West prevented negotiations to end the Ukraine war

Moscow was willing to negotiate with Ukraine in the early months of the war, but the US and other Western nations advised Kyiv against it, Russia’s foreign minister claimed.

Ergei Lavrov’s comments on a visit to South Africa were similar to those made by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year that his country was ready for talks but was blocked by Ukraine’s western allies.

The US and other allies have said Moscow is not taking negotiations to end the war, which is set to mark its one-year anniversary next month, seriously.

It is known that our American, British and some European colleagues have told Ukraine that it is too early to actSergey Lavrov

“It is well known that we supported the Ukrainian side’s proposal to negotiate at the beginning of the special military operation, and at the end of March the two delegations agreed on the principle of resolving this conflict,” Lavrov said.

“It is well known and openly published that our American, British and some European colleagues have told Ukraine that it is too early to reach an agreement and the agreement that was almost agreed was never restored by the Kiev regime picked up.”

Russia has repeatedly rejected Ukrainian and Western demands for a full withdrawal from Ukraine as a condition of negotiations. President Joe Biden has indicated he would be ready to speak to Mr Putin if the Russian leader demonstrated he was serious about ending the invasion.

Mr Lavrov was in Pretoria for talks with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor amid Russia’s push to strengthen ties with Africa’s most developed country and a historic ally.

South Africa was seen as the most significant of several African nations that took a neutral stance on the war and refused to condemn Russia’s invasion – to the disappointment of the US and other Western partners, who also see South Africa as a linchpin of their recovery plans of relationships in Africa.

Mr Lavrov met Ms Pandor in the South African capital and is expected to visit other countries during his second visit to Africa in six months as Russia tries to rally support.

“We are fully aware that conflict, wherever it exists in the world, has a negative impact on all of us, and as developing countries, especially on us as an African continent,” said Ms. Pandor.

“Therefore, as South Africa, we consistently declare that we will always stand ready to support the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the continent and around the world.”

South Africa retains strong ties with Russia after the Soviet Union backed the country’s current ruling party, the African National Congress, when it was a liberation movement fighting to end the apartheid system of oppression of South Africa’s black majority.

That relationship prompted South Africa to abstain in a United Nations vote last year condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Despite South Africa’s explicit neutrality towards Ukraine, Mr Lavrov’s visit comes days after South African forces announced they will hold joint exercises with the Russian and Chinese navies off the east coast next month.

Mr Lavrov’s visit to Africa last year was immediately followed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to South Africa, seen as a US attempt to counter growing Russian influence on a strategically important continent.

This time US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited Senegal and Zambia ahead of an official visit to South Africa that begins on Wednesday. The Russian foreign minister claims the West prevented negotiations to end the Ukraine war

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