The Kremlin said on Wednesday that peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv were not progressing as rapidly or energetically as it would like.
Russia has accused the West trying to derail peace talks with Ukraine by fuelling “hysteria” over allegations of war crimes by Moscow’s forces following their retreat from the Kyiv region.
Kyiv and the West say there is evidence, including images and witness testimony gathered by Reuters and other media organizations, that Russia committed war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. Moscow denies the charge and has called the allegations a “monstrous forgery.”
“The only thing I can say is that work (on the talks) is continuing,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call when asked about the prospect of another round of negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.
“There is a still a long road ahead. The work process is ongoing but it is dragging along way more than we would like.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow believed the war crime accusations were timed to derail the negotiating process.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that civilian killings in Ukraine had made peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv more difficult, but that he expected more negotiations, possibly eventually between foreign ministers.
Speaking at NATO before a meeting with his counterparts, Cavusoglu also said the alliance was aware of Ukraine’s demands for more weapons and allies were looking to step up help.
Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Conor Humphries)