Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday called for the United States to have a role in negotiating between Ukraine and Russia, but the Kremlin immediately ruled out direct American participation.
Moscow instead suggested that Washington could use its influence to bring the Ukrainians to the table.
“It won’t be possible to resolve the conflict without the participation of the United States,” said Lukashenko, who is an ally of Russia but spoke of Ukraine with sympathy in his remarks.
“We’ve left Zelensky one-on-one with this heavy burden, with these problems that are not his problems,” he said, referring to the new president of Ukraine, 41-year-old political neophyte Volodymyr Zelensky.
“And Europe remains silent – you know who I am speaking about – both from the East and the West. They are only throwing stones at this young man in pursuit of their own interests,” Lukashenko added.
Lukashenko credited Zelensky with working hard to resolve the situation. “No one will reproach the president of Ukraine for the lack of effort,” the Belarusian president said. He implied that since the separatist issue is ultimately “the conflict of Russia and Ukraine,” it would appropriate for Ukraine’s powerful American allies to support the small country in negotiations with vastly larger Russia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to Lukashenko’s remarks by claiming there was “no support” for the United States to join the “Normandy Format” talks, which currently involve Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France.
“Nevertheless, the U.S. can certainly use its influence in Kiev in order to ensure that Ukraine meets its obligations under the Minsk accord as soon as possible,” Peskov added, referring to a 2015 framework for peace that Ukraine also accuses Russia and its proxies of violating.