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Russian Former Foreign Minister Calls for Ukraine Ceasefire

Wednesday 16 March 2022, by siawi3


Russian Former Foreign Minister Calls for Ukraine Ceasefire

Igor Ivanov joins appeal for return to diplomacy to reduce ‘elevated risk’ of nuclear conflict

March 15, 2022

Patrick Wintour

The Guardian

Photo: Igor Ivanov served as Russia’s foreign minister from 1998 to 2004., Gavriil Grigorov/Tass

A Russian former foreign minister has joined a call for all sides in the Ukrainian war to return to diplomacy and so reduce “the dramatically elevated risk” of a nuclear conflict.

The appeal co-authored by Prof Igor Ivanov, now the president of the Russian International Affairs Council, may be a sign that some in the Russian foreign policy establishment believe that pursuing a purely military solution in Ukraine is a strategic mistake.
Ivanov was appointed foreign minister under Boris Yeltsin in 1998 and resigned in 2004, four years into Vladimir Putin’s presidency. He has retained a status in Russian foreign policy circles.

The statement urged all sides to back a ceasefire and end the “unjustifiable” loss of civilian lives. It was signed by Ivanov and a group of foreign policy heavyweights such as Wolfgang Ischinger, the former chair of the Munich Security Conference, Sam Nunn, the former US senator and co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and Des Browne, the former UK defence secretary.

As a Yeltsin-era minister, Ivanov is hardly part of Putin’s inner circle. But his position may reflect unease in Russia’s marginalised foreign ministry.

The statement was published as negotiators from Russia and Ukraine met for a third round of bilateral talks on Monday. In advance of the talks both sides sounded more optimistic than before, but the cause for their optimism was unclear.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is pressing for a direct meeting with Putin. France, the UK and the US remain sceptical that Russia is yet willing to negotiate a settlement that the Ukrainian leadership would find acceptable.

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, flew to Turkey for talks with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey has been offering to act as a mediator, and hosted talks between Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s current foreign minister, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba.

The statement co-authored by Ivanov avoids attributing responsibility for the war and instead focuses on the responsibility of nuclear states to eliminate nuclear risks. It says the conflict in Ukraine elevates such risks dramatically.

“The firefight at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine was the latest reminder of how nuclear catastrophe can quickly rise to the surface in the ‘fog of war’,” the statement says. “The leaders of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States together affirmed in January that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’.

“The first and most essential step toward reducing the risks of a consequential accident, mistake or miscalculation is a ceasefire to end the unacceptable and unjustifiable loss of human lives, including innocent civilians.

“Dialogue, diplomacy and negotiations are the only acceptable route to resolving the conflict in a way that can stand the test of time. We must return to diplomacy and dialogue to ensure current disputes on core issues are negotiated and not fought. We welcome the first attempts of Russia and Ukraine to start such negotiations. We also welcome the efforts of world leaders aimed at finding a political settlement.”