British and Russian officials have held a series of diplomatic talks amid the war in Ukraine. Sources told the British publication The i that the meetings took place over a year and a half in various locations, including Vienna and New York.
During the talks, the two sides discussed the security of the UK and the international community, they also touched on grain shortages and nuclear security in the context of the war in Ukraine. According to a British diplomat who participated in some of the meetings, the only issue the UK did not attempt to discuss was possible peace talks with Kyiv.
“We have been in contact and we think it is important to maintain an open dialog during the war in Ukraine. We […] do not […] make peace agreements on behalf of anyone, but it is important to keep that channel of communication open”, he explained.
A spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office confirmed that meetings with Russian officials were only held when it was deemed “absolutely necessary” and said: any claims that the talks were an attempt to negotiate an end to the war in Ukraine are “untrustworthy and untrue”.
“The position in any negotiations should be determined by Ukraine and the Ukrainian government, just as Ukraine should determine its free and democratic future”, he said.
The former intelligence officer, who now works with the UK government on security issues, said diplomatic talks during war were “good” as the international community tries to resolve the issues of nuclear war and grain exports. “I would be more concerned if such negotiations were not taking place”, he admitted.
The British intelligence officer added that states almost always maintain diplomatic channels of communication. “All wars end in negotiation, don’t they?” – he added.