A “very, very big gap” separates negotiators seeking to settle Russian’s deadly invasion of Ukraine, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a bellicose speech against the West, according to a report Thursday.
“Both sides are taking them seriously but there is a very, very big gap between the positions in question,” a Western official told Reuters.
Another Western official said that anyone “who saw President Putin addressing the nation yesterday would be forgiven for thinking that Russia was not in compromising mood.”
During a televised address to Russian government ministers, Putin claimed that the invasion was “going to plan” and accused the West of pursuing “hostile geopolitical goals.”
He also said that if Western leaders think they can prevail over Russia, “they don’t know our history or our people.”
The Western officials who spoke Thursday said that China’s potential role in the conflict — including its willingness to supply Russia with arms — remained unclear.
“Their leadership would like to be supportive of Russia … but are increasingly aware … of a) how badly this is going at the moment and b) some of the reputational blowback associated with being in the Russian camp,” one official said.
“It is a complex picture and by no means a static one.”
On Wednesday, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that a “model of security guarantees is on the negotiating table.”
“What does this mean? A rigid agreement with a number of guarantor states undertaking clear legal obligations to actively prevent attacks,” he added.
Discussions are underway to determine which countries might assume that role and the terms of any deal, a Western official said Thursday.