Russia's lead negotiator in talks with Ukraine said on Friday they were making progress on the topic of demilitarizing the country, but not on Moscow's demand to "denazify" its neighbor.
Twenty-two days after Russia invaded Ukraine, and after a series of talks in person and by video link, Vladimir Medinsky said the two countries were "halfway there" on the question of Ukraine adopting neutral status.
"On denazification, the situation is quite strange because our Ukrainian colleagues on the other side of the table consider there are no Nazi formations in Ukraine and this is not an issue in modern Ukraine," he said.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what President Vladimir Putin called a special operation to reduce its southern neighbor's military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.
Ukraine and the West reject his stated objectives of demilitarizing and "denazifying" the country as a pretext for a war of choice against a country with a democratically elected Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Medinsky said Russia would keep raising the matter in the talks, saying Ukraine harbored "permitted Nazi military formations" with their own symbolism, training and ideology.
"I think we will definitely return to this question again and again," he said.
Zelenskiy has said it is Russia that is behaving like the Nazis by visiting destruction on Ukrainian cities in a war that has killed thousands of people and forced millions to flee their homes.
"This is just a pure Nazi behavior. I can't even qualify this in any different manner," he told an American Jewish group last week.