WEISSENHAUS, Germany (AP) — Ukraine's foreign minister said Friday that his country remains willing to engage in diplomatic talks with Russia to unblock grain supplies and to achieve a political solution to the war in Ukraine but won’t accept ultimatums from Moscow.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Ukrainian government had received “no positive feedback” from Russia, which he alleged “prefers wars to talks.”
“We are ready to talk, but we are ready for a meaningful conversation based on mutual respect, not on the Russian ultimatums thrown on the table,” Kuleba told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven major economies,
Kuleba said his talks with G-7 counterparts had been “helpful, fruitful, very honest and result-oriented.” He praised them for the financial and military support they have so far provided to Ukraine.
But he urged Ukraine's supporters to supply more weapons, including multiple launch rocket systems and military planes, and to put further pressure on Russia’s economy by stepping up sanctions and following Canada’s lead in seizing Russian sovereign assets to pay for rebuilding Ukraine.
The European Union's foreign affairs chief announced plans to give Ukraine another 500 million euros ($520 million) to buy heavy weapons to fend off the Russian invasion.
“We will provide a new tranche of 500 more millions to support the military of Ukraine,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, said at the G-7 meeting in Weissenhaus, on Germany's Baltic Sea coast.
The funds would be allocated for the purchase of heavy weapons and take the EU's total financial support for Ukraine to 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion), he added. EU diplomats cautioned that any disbursement requires backing from all of the bloc's 27 members.
Some countries are expressing misgivings, and approval is unlikely before next week.
EU Council president Charles Michel, who represents the governments of EU members in Brussels, threw his “full support” behind the plan. “Time is of the essence,” Michel wrote in a message posted on Twitter.
Borrell also expressed hope of soon getting the bloc’s member states to agree an oil embargo against Russia, despite resistance from Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian imports.
Kuleba said he plans to join a meeting of European Union diplomats in Brussels on Monday, where the issue will be discussed.
“It’s a critical moment when we will see where EU unity will continue to exist or it will be broken," he said, claiming Hungary's concerns were “more politics than economic arguments.”
"(Russian President Vladimir) Putin has been trying for many years to achieve exactly his goal, to break the unity of the European Union on its policy towards Ukraine,” he added.
“If (,,,) Hungary opts out and does not support the package, I believe it will cause a lot of damage of the European Union itself and therefore they have to do their utmost to prevent it from happening,” said Kuleba.
Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, expressed optimism that a deal could be reached.
“We need this agreement, and we will have it,” he said.
Borrell said it was important for the G-7 meeting to present a “united front” - a sentiment echoed by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss ahead of the talks Friday.
“It’s very important at this time that we keep up the pressure on Vladimir Putin by supplying more weapons to Ukraine and by increasing the sanctions,” she said. “G-7 unity is vital during this crisis to protect freedom and democracy."
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that failure to unblock millions of tons of grain stuck in Ukraine, a major agricultural exporter — could cause severe food shortages in future.
“We can only see the tip of the iceberg at the moment,” she said. "We all know that (...) if climate crisis hits in summer around the world, the situation will get even worse.”
Baerbock is hosting the three-day meeting in Weissenhaus also attended by top diplomats from Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the United States. Moldova and Indonesia were also invited to participate in some of the talks.
About 3,500 police officers were deployed at the event site northeast of Hamburg to provide security.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
Frank Jordans, The Associated Press