(Baghdad) The head of Ukrainian diplomacy, visiting Iraq on Monday, was skeptical about the chances of success of the peace efforts, believing that “Russia wants war”.
“Today Russia wants war. Peace efforts will take time,” said Dmytro Kouleba, whose country has been attacked since February 2022 by Russia.
“You cannot say that you are in favor of peace while trying to conquer more territories, committing more atrocities, destroying villages and towns,” Mr. Kouleba told a conference press conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Fouad Hussein.
Mediation offers between the two countries have multiplied in recent weeks. On Sunday, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he had discussed joint mediation with China and the United Arab Emirates, accusing the United States and Europe of prolonging the conflict.
And on Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron discussed with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky “next steps in organizing a peace summit”.
“Russia must agree to something very simple: stop the war and withdraw from Ukrainian territory. This will create space for diplomacy,” Kouleba said, noting that “restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity” was “the cornerstone” of any peace effort.
Iraq too offered mediation, after groundbreaking talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia launched in 2021. The two big regional rivals finally announced in March a resumption of their diplomatic relations under the aegis of Beijing.
On Monday, the head of Iraqi diplomacy Fouad Hussein assured that Iraq was ready to “help” Russia and Ukraine “to first reach a ceasefire, then to start discussions”.
“When both parties are convinced that it is necessary to launch dialogue, Baghdad will serve both sides,” he added.
This is the first visit to Iraq in 11 years by a Ukrainian foreign minister, and the first trip to Baghdad by Dmytro Kouleba since the start of the Russian invasion.
It follows the visit to Baghdad in February by the head of Russian diplomacy Sergey Lavrov.
Supported by its Western partners, Ukraine is trying to consolidate its diplomatic support among emerging countries, particularly in the Middle East and Asia. In October Mr. Kouleba launched the first African tour in the history of his country – cut short because of the war.