Kremlin on Tuesday announced that it has picked a new negotiator to deal with Ukraine after the ties between the two countries softened. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov while talking to the media said that Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, Dmitry Kozak is now the new head of office when it comes to dealing with Ukraine. As per reports, Dmitry Kozak was born in Soviet Ukraine and is a lawyer by education.
Dmitry Kozak replaced Vladislav Surkov, a hardliner who was previously the adviser of Putin on relations with Ukraine. Peskov told reporters that Surkov was still working for the Kremlin, but did not elaborate on his role.
Relations between Moscow and Kiev soured after Russia annexed the Crimea region in 2014. According to reports, Moscow helped separatists launch an uprising in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region, which has killed more than 13,000 people. Russia, however, denies any involvement in the conflict.
Relations between Russia and Ukraine improved after presidents of both countries decided to meet for the first time in three years in December last year. The meeting was finalised after a trust-building exercise between the two countries, including an exchange of prisoners and troops withdrawal from three locations. According to reports, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron mediated the meeting between Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.
Russia and Ukraine had good relations since the latter's independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. A series of military actions began after the 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation. Reportedly, Russia's interest in Crimea is because of the Black Sea and its resources. Moscow also has a fleet of the Russian Navy in the Black sea that Ukraine was threatening to remove. The black sea gives an important geopolitical advantage to Russia.
(With inputs from agencies)