David Arakhamia
© Sputnik / Sergey KarpukhinDavid Arakhamia during Russian-Ukrainian negotiations in Istanbul, Türkiye.
Early on in the conflict, he told the country to "just continue fighting," top Ukrainian MP David Arakhamia claims

Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson played a key role in derailing a peace deal between Moscow and Kiev, telling Ukraine to "just continue fighting," top Ukrainian MP David Arakhamia has said. Arakhamia, the head of President Vladimir Zelensky's parliamentary faction, was the chief negotiator at the botched peace talks in Istanbul, held early into the ongoing conflict.

The MP made the bombshell revelation on Friday in an interview with the Ukrainian 1+1 TV channel. "Russia's goal was to put pressure on us so that we would take neutrality. This was the main thing for them," he said. "And that we would give an obligation that we would not join NATO. This was the main thing."

However, Kiev did not actually trust Moscow to keep its word and did not want to reach such a deal without third-party "security guarantees," Arakhamia claimed, while revealing the lead role in derailing the agreement was played by Johnson.
When we returned from Istanbul, Boris Johnson came to Kiev and said that we would not sign anything with [the Russians] at all. And [said] 'let's just continue fighting.'
The pivotal role played by Johnson in Ukraine's decision to scrap the draft agreement with Russia - signed by Arakhamia personally in Istanbul - has long been rumored, with initial reports on the matter emerging in Ukrainian media as early as May 2022. Until now, however, it was neither denied nor confirmed by any of the parties involved.

Kiev threw out the preliminary deal as soon as Russia withdrew its troops from the vicinity of Kiev, as a gesture of good will. The pullback was portrayed by Kiev and its Western backers as a major Ukrainian military victory, which greatly reinforced the positions of those willing to pour military aid into the country.

Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented a draft agreement "on permanent neutrality and security guarantees for Ukraine" during a meeting with African leaders in Moscow. At the time, Putin said the Ukrainian delegation initially agreed to sign a neutrality pact that would also cap Ukraine's heavy weapons and hardware.