Moscow “empties” Alexander Lukashenko. A ceasefire in Ukraine would not allow Russia to achieve the goals of its “special military operation” at present, the Kremlin said on Friday, shortly after calling for for an immediate truce without conditions, Moscow’s closest ally, the Belarusian president.

At the same time, Lukashenko appealed to Moscow and Kiev to start negotiations for a lasting peace agreement.

Speaking to journalists, the representative of the Kremlin Dmitry Peskov he said Moscow “has taken Lukashenko’s comments into account and that President Vladimir Putin will discuss it with him next week. But he pointed out that Russia’s goals in Ukraine cannot currently be achieved through a ceasefire.”

“As far as Ukraine is concerned nothing changes, the special military operation continues because today this is the only way we have to achieve our goals,” Peskov said.

According to him, some points of the plan proposed by China for peace in Ukraine are “not feasible for the time being, due to the reluctance – or rather the inability – of the Ukrainian side to disobey their superiors and commanders.”

This was a reference to Moscow’s claims – unsupported by evidence – that Ukraine’s Western backers have ordered Kiev not to pursue a ceasefire.

“These commanders, as we know, are not in Kiev and insist that the war continue”said Peskov.

Russia has declared itself open to peace, but has made it clear that this can only be done on its own terms.

He argues that Kiev should accept the “new reality” on the ground, where Russia has taken over and claims to have annexed more than a sixth of Ukrainian territory.

Ukraine has demanded that Russia withdraw its troops as a condition for a peace deal and says any temporary truce would simply allow Russian forces to regroup for future military action.

Moscow says the US and its allies are using Ukraine as part of a “hybrid war” aimed at achieving a strategic defeat of Russia. For their part, Ukraine and the West counter that Russia’s claims are a baseless justification for its invasion.

The Kremlin also announced that Russia plans to exercise all its rights at the United Nations as it takes over the rotating presidency of the Security Council in April.

On Thursday, the US called on Russia to “act professionally” when taking on the role, saying there was no way Moscow could be excluded from the role.

Moscow assurances for journalists

All accredited foreign journalists can continue to work in Russia, Peskov also said, referring to the arrest by the FSB on charges of espionage of a Wall Street Journal reporter.

According to the Kremlin, Ivan Gershkovic carried out espionage “under the guise” of his journalistic status. Russia has not released any evidence to support the allegations — the first against an American journalist since the end of the Cold War — which the WSJ denies.

“All journalists who have valid credentials here — I mean foreign journalists — can still practice journalism in the country. They don’t face any restrictions and work well,” Peskov told reporters.

Peskov even repeated the claim that Gershkovich was “arrested red-handed,” but refused to elaborate on the case, which is being kept secret even by the journalist’s legal team.

He called on Washington not to react by deporting Russian journalists working in the US.

While a number of Russian journalists have been jailed in the two decades since Putin came to power, foreign journalists who have been targeted by the authorities have simply been deported.