A meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy may take place if all key differences between the two countries are settled, the Russian foreign minister said on Monday.
"A huge number of problems have accumulated over these years, so just meet and exchange of ideas would be counterproductive right now," Sergey Lavrov told Serbian media outlets.
Lavrov recalled that Putin has never refused to meet Zelenskyy, and stressed that such events have to be well-prepared.
Under a possible agreement, Lavrov said Ukraine must refrain from hosting foreign militaries, deploying weapons that would “threaten Russia,” “oppressing people in the Donbas,” and “encouraging Nazi ideologies.”
"A meeting of the presidents will be necessary when we have clarity regarding all those key issues," he said.
Kyiv has repeatedly dismissed Russia’s claims and accused Moscow of seeking a pretext to justify a military attack on Ukraine.
Lavrov accused Ukraine of sabotaging the Minsk Agreement, signed in 2015 between the separatists in Donbas and the Kyiv authorities.
"We are interested in these negotiations to be crowned with a result that will achieve fundamental goals for us, first of all, an end to the killing of civilians in the Donbas, which lasted for eight long years," he claimed.
Lavrov said there are chances to achieve an agreement, claiming the Western politicians understand their "gross mistakes."
He said that venue of the negotiations should be agreed on by both Russia and Ukraine, adding that Istanbul, where the next meeting is planned, is acceptable for both sides.
"Of course, we will be ready to consider other locations, including Belgrade," he said.
The Russia-Ukraine war, which started on Feb.24, has met international outrage with the EU, US, and UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.
At least 1,119 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 1,790 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.
More than 3.82 million Ukrainians have also fled to neighboring countries, with millions more displaced inside the country, according to the UN refugee agency.