March 31 (Reuters) – Russia said on Friday that a ceasefire in Ukraine would not enable it to achieve the goals of its “special military operation” at the moment.
The Kremlin was reacting after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko – Russia’s closest ally – called for an immediate ceasefire, without preconditions, and for both Moscow and Kyiv to start negotiations on a lasting peace settlement.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Russia had noted Lukashenko’s comments and that President Vladimir Putin would discuss it with him next week. But he said Russia’s goals in Ukraine could not be achieved at the moment through a halt in fighting.
“In terms of Ukraine, nothing is changing, the special military operation is continuing because today that is the only means in front of us to achieve our goals,” Peskov said.
He said parts of a plan proposed by China for peace in Ukraine were “unrealisable at the moment, due to the unwillingness – or rather the inability – of the Ukrainian side to disobey their supervisors and commanders”.
That was a reference to Moscow’s claims – unsupported by evidence – that Ukraine’s Western backers have ordered Kyiv not to pursue a ceasefire.
“These commanders, as we know, are not sitting in Kyiv and insist that the war continues,” Peskov said.
Russia has said it is open for peace but has made clear this would only be on its terms. It says Kyiv must accept the “new realities” on the ground, where Russia has seized and claimed to have annexed more than a sixth of Ukrainian territory.
Ukraine has said Russia must withdraw its troops as a precursor to any peace deal, and says any temporary ceasefire would only allow Russia to regroup for future military action.
Moscow says the United States and its allies are using Ukraine as part of a “hybrid war” in which they aim to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. Ukraine and the West say Russia’s claims are a baseless pretext to justify its invasion.