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Russia open to peace talks, but won't give up annexed regions, says Kremlin

Russia claimed annexure of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions

Russia annexure of Ukraine regions (File) From left, Moscow-appointed head of Kherson Region Vladimir Saldo, Moscow-appointed head of Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin (centre), Denis Pushilin, leader of self-proclaimed of the Donetsk People's Republic and Leonid Pasechnik, leader of self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic pose for a photo during a ceremony to sign the treaties for four regions of Ukraine to join Russia | AP

Russia on Tuesday said it was open to peace talks with Ukraine but it would not give up annexed regions.

Russia said new territorial realities can not be ignored. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would never renounce its claims to four Ukrainian regions that Moscow declared it had annexed last year. 

"There are certain realities that have already become an internal factor. I mean the new territories. The constitution of the Russian Federation exists, and cannot be ignored. Russia will never be able to compromise on this, these are important realities," Reuters reported quoting Peskov. 

Russia claimed annexure of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions last September in a grand ceremony in Moscow. The regions were subsequently named as constituent subjects of the Russian Federation in a constitutional decree, Reuters reported.

Peskov said Russia was open to negotiations if Kyiv accepted Moscow's control over the regions.

“With a favourable state of affairs and the appropriate attitude from the Ukrainians, this can be resolved at the negotiating table. But the main thing is to achieve our goals,” The Guardian reported quoting the Russian spokesman. 

Russian forces do not fully control any of the four regions, and Moscow says it is fighting to "liberate" them from the control of Ukrainian neo-Nazis, Reuters reported. Ukraine demands that Russian troops must leave every inch of its territory including the four annexed regions and the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow unilaterally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, before a peace plan can be discussed, Reuters reported.

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