​Moscow rebuffed Ukraine’s proposal for a peace summit early next year by demanding that Kyiv meet the Kremlin’s requirements of “demilitarization” and denazification” or “the Russian army will solve the issue.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ​on Tuesday ​also accused NATO and the United States of wanting to destroy Russia “on the battlefield” as part of their larger goal to weaken the country “economically and strategically.”

“The enemy is well aware of our proposals on the demilitarization and denazification of the territories controlled by the regime, the elimination of threats to Russia’s security emanating from there, including our new lands,” Lavrov said Tuesday, according to state-run media.

Russia in September proclaimed that ​it had annexed four provinces of Ukraine — Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

People pay their last respects during a funeral Tuesday for Volodymyr Yezhov, a Ukrainian killed in the fighting against Russian forces.
People pay their last respects during a funeral Tuesday for Volodymyr Yezhov, a Ukrainian killed in the fighting against Russian forces.
AP
A comrade holds a picture of Volodymyr Yezhov during his funeral on Tuesday in Ukraine.
A comrade holds a picture of Volodymyr Yezhov during his funeral on Tuesday in Ukraine.
AP

Lavrov couched the war in Ukraine in the same terms used by Russian President Vladimir Putin when he described the invasion he launched Feb. 24 as a “special operation” to “denazify” his western neighbor.

“There is a little left to do – to accept these proposals in an amicable way. Otherwise, the Russian Army will deal with this issue,” Lavrov said.

The foreign minister added that the “ball is ​o​n the court’s side” of Kyiv and Washington, noting “they can put an end any time to this senseless resistance.”​

Ukrainian soldiers hold a ceremony last Thursday to remember their comrades killed in the fighting with Russian forces.
Ukrainian soldiers hold a ceremony last Thursday to remember their comrades killed in the fighting with Russian forces.
AP

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview Monday that his country’s aim is to hold a peace summit by the end of February at the United Nations, but only on the condition that Russian leaders face prosecution for war crimes.  ​

“Every war ends in a diplomatic way​,” Kuleba told the Associated Press. “Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table​.”​

In a Christmas Day ​appearance on Russian television, Putin said the Kremlin was “ready to negotiate” an end to the 10-month-old war, but also claimed that Western nations are seeking to prolong the war, leaving Moscow in the position to defend “our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people.”​

Kuleba in the Monday interview ​said Putin’s words did not match his actions. 

​“They regularly say that they are ready for negotiations, which is not true, because everything they do on the battlefield proves the opposite,” ​he remarked.

In the meantime, Russian forces continued to ​bomb towns and cities in eastern and southern Ukraine, with heavy fighting reported in Bakhmut in Donetsk province and Svatove in Luhansk province.

With Post wires