Zelensky’s adviser says Russia should withdraw troops from Ukraine before dialogue begins

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BUT Ukrainian official rejected claims by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder that Putin wants a “negotiated solution,” saying on Wednesday there could be no dialogue until Russian troops were withdrawn.

“If Moscow wants dialogue, that’s its business,” Mikhail Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted on Wednesday. “First, a ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops, then a constructive one”

Schroeder, who held the post Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005 and describes himself as a close friend of Putin, told German news outlets this week that the Russian-Ukrainian grain agreement indicated that peace talks could work.

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“The good news is that the Kremlin wants to find a solution through negotiations,” Schroeder told RTL/ntv. “The first success is the grain deal, which could possibly be gradually expanded to a ceasefire.”

On this grain deal ship with Ukrainian food left the Black Sea on Wednesday for the first time since the Russian invasion more than five months ago.

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Putin said last month that Russia does not “reject peace talks” and also threatens that the invasion has just begun.

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

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United Nations it seems pessimistic that the recent grain agreement will lead to more constructive dialogue.

“Despite encouraging developments in grains and fertilizers, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of prospects for moving towards a serious resumption of diplomatic efforts to end the war,” United Nations political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo said July 29.

Reuters contributed to this report.