MOSCOW, AUG 23: Russia has criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s remarks on the Ukraine conflict during her meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday firmly rejected statements by the chancellor that Russia was a party to the conflict in the war in eastern Ukraine. “Russia has no connections whatsoever with the parties to the conflict,” Peskov said.

In contrast, Merkel had told journalists in Kiev on Sunday: “Because we see together with Ukraine that Russia is of course intensively involved in this conflict.”

To Russia’s annoyance, Merkel also supported Ukraine in its refusal to enter into direct negotiations with the pro-Russian separatists.”Therefore, direct talks with the separatists’ non-legitimized authorities are correctly rejected by Ukraine,” Merkel had said.

Russia has repeatedly demanded that the Ukrainian leadership enter into negotiations with the Moscow-backed separatists.

Moscow is also considered an actor in the conflict in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk because it distributes Russian passports to the Ukrainian population. Russia has also been criticized for letting weapons and other aid through its border with the separatist region.

Kremlin spokesman Peskov pointed out, however, that Russia was not listed as a party to the conflict in the peace plan negotiated by Germany and France. That is why Moscow does not agree with Merkel, he said.

Russia expressed reservations about Merkel’s proposal to hold a new Ukraine summit before the end of her term as chancellor. Peskov said that this would require preconditions that were lacking today.

Russia had repeatedly pointed out that the political steps agreed upon at the last Ukraine summit in Paris in December 2019 had to be implemented before a new meeting could take place. The next summit is to be held in Berlin.