Vladimir Putin has claimed Ukraine signed a peace agreement soon after his invasion in February last year, but then tossed it on the ‘rubbish heap of history’.
The Russian president held up a piece of paper during a meeting with several African leaders yesterday, saying it was a document agreed by the Kyiv negotiation team.
He said the deal had been reached during talks held in Turkey in the month after Russia launched its full-scale assault on its neighbour.
Kyiv has not commented on the claims.
Speaking to a delegation which included South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, Mr Putin accused Ukraine of reneging on the terms of the alleged agreement.
He said: ‘The project of this deal was initialled by the head of the negotiations group from Kyiv. He signed it. Here it is.
‘It exists. It is called “The Agreement on Permanent Neutrality and Safety Guarantees to Ukraine”.’
The president later said: ‘But after we, as promised, drew our troops away from Kyiv, the Kyiv authorities, just as their owners usually do, threw it all onto the rubbish heap of history.’
He added: ‘I’m putting it mildly, and trying to be polite. They turned it down. Where are the guarantees that they won’t give up any other agreements?’
Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine were held in Istanbul and hosted by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in March last year.
Ahead of the meeting, Mr Erdoğan had said Kyiv were prepared to agree certain demands such as the recognition of Russian as an official language in Ukraine and the renouncing of Nato membership.
No official deal was announced following the discussions, which came to an end on March 29, but Russia said it would be withdrawing its troops from the area around Kyiv.
At the time, a Kremlin spokesperson said the move was intended ‘to increase trust’ in talks between the two countries.
However, Ukraine said Russian forces were already being pushed back from the capital region when the retreat was confirmed, a claim backed up by the UK Ministry of Defence.
News agency Reuters previously reported that Mr Putin rejected a provisional peace deal struck by his chief envoy for Ukraine as the war was beginning.
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