Zelenskyy adviser says Russia must pull troops out of Ukraine before dialogue can take place

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A Ukrainian official dismissed former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s claims that Putin wants a “negotiated solution,” saying Wednesday that no dialogue can take place until Russian forces withdraw. 

“If Moscow wants dialogue, it is up to them,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, tweeted on Wednesday. “First, a cease-fire and troops withdrawal, then – constructive”

Schroeder, who served as the Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005 and calls himself a close friend of Putin, told German news outlets this week that Russia and Ukraine’s grain agreement indicates that peace talks could work. 

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“The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated solution,” Schroeder told broadcasters RTL/ntv. “A first success is the grain deal, perhaps that can be slowly expanded to a ceasefire.”

Under that grain deal, a ship loaded with Ukrainian food supplies left the Black Sea on Wednesday for the first time since Russia invaded more than five months ago. 

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Putin said last month that Russia doesn’t “reject peace talks” while also threatening that the invasion has just begun. 

“Everyone should know that, by and large, we haven’t started anything yet in earnest,” Putin said on July 7.

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The United Nations appears pessimistic that the recent grain agreement will lead to more constructive dialogue. 

“Despite the encouraging developments on grain and fertilizers, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of prospects for a shift towards a meaningful resumption of diplomatic efforts to end the war,” United Nations Political Affairs Chief Rosemary DiCarlo said on July 29. 

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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