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Sergei Lavrov (Photo Credit: Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS)

Russia is ready to receive Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to discuss normalizing bilateral relations but if he intends to talk on Donbass issues, he should turn to the Contact Group on settling the situation in southeastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with radio stations on Friday.

“The Russian president [Vladimir Putin] has said: if Zelensky wants to discuss normalizing bilateral relations that are impaired by the unilateral actions of his regime – and we, of course, reacted to these actions – we are ready for this, no problem. Let him come to Moscow, Sochi or St. Petersburg where they agree. But if he wants to discuss Donbass, he should turn to the Contact Group, which by decision of the Normandy format should consider all the issues of settlement directly between Kiev and Donetsk, Kiev and Lugansk,” the Russian foreign minister pointed out.

When Zelensky unambiguously states that he does not want to talk with representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), “this is bad but this is bad for the intra-Ukrainian crisis,” he said.

“As for our relations, if he has something to say and [has an understanding] how to correct those steps for their destruction that were initiated by Kiev – by Zelensky and his predecessors – we are ready to consider it. The president clearly indicated that,” Lavrov said.