Nursultan Nazarbayev did in fact offer to help Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrange a meeting with Vladimir Putin, but it was an offer without specifics, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told BBC in a comment.
Prystaiko explained that he was present at the meeting between Nazarbayev and Zelensky in Japan, where the matter was discussed. According to the foreign minister, the former president of Kazakhstan made a “general offer to help organize such a meeting”, which was purely diplomatic in nature.
The minister pointed out that Kazakhstan has previously offered to host Donbas conflict resolution talks instead of Minsk. From a logistical perspective, however, it is more difficult than Minsk – “you have to fly for another 5 hours”, he noted.
“No one wants to offend anybody, but we are content to have a negotiation position in Minsk. It’s convenient for everyone. I don’t think a meeting could be in Astana [Nur-Sultan]. More likely either in Berlin or in Paris,” the minister remarked.
When asked whether Zelensky and Putin might really have a tête-à-tête outside of the Normandy Format, the Prystaiko responded: “Just like you, I heard this morning that such a meeting was possible.”
He noted that Russia would first need to confirm.
“Then we will make a decision. But we will remain in the Normandy Format. Not only do we respect what has been done, but let’s not forget that France and Germany are the forces that enable us to negotiate from a slightly different position than when we talk tête-à-tête,” he summarized.