Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was open to negotiations with Russia if they focused on protecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, reparations to Kyiv and bringing war crimes perpetrators to justice.
Ahead of his speech at the World Climate Summit in Egypt on Tuesday, Zelensky said late Monday: To genuine peace talks. ”
Zelensky’s statement publicly shows that Ukraine is open to negotiations with Moscow to avoid alienating international public opinion by the United States, Ukraine’s main supporter in defending against Russian aggression. It was issued after urging Kyiv to
“Once again. Restoration of territorial integrity, respect for the UN Charter, compensation for all material losses caused by war, punishment of all war criminals and assurance that this will never happen again,” Zelensky said. “These are perfectly understandable conditions.”
US officials say it is up to Ukraine to define acceptable settlement terms. Many Western officials are skeptical that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be open to reconciliation anytime soon, including Russia’s withdrawal from occupied territories in Ukraine.
Since Putin said in late September that swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine belong to Russia, Kyiv has said it will not negotiate with Russia until another leader appears in the Kremlin. Meanwhile, Mr Putin’s insistence that Russia’s territorial claims are non-negotiable seems to leave little room for negotiation at this point.
“We have always made it clear that we are ready for such talks,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko in a statement quoted by state news agency RIA. “There are no preliminary conditions on our part, except for the main condition that Ukraine shows goodwill.”
Bolstered by its recent battlefield successes, Ukraine will, as a condition of the peace deal, return to its own control all occupied territories, including parts of the Crimean peninsula and eastern Donbass region, which Russia occupied in 2014. demanding.
Military realities will determine how much Ukraine can restore its internationally recognized borders, according to officials in Kyiv and the western capital.
Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February, many Western governments have been skeptical about how much territory Ukraine could regain through fighting. It has sought to dispel such suspicions, especially with its attacks in eastern and southern Ukraine invading the Kharkov region.
But continued Western military and financial support is vital to Ukraine’s ability to move forward. Many in Kyiv fear that cuts in aid will undermine Ukraine’s hopes of reclaiming occupied territories and force negotiations on a weaker footing.
Ukraine also fears any ceasefire will regroup the Russian army and Mr Putin fears the talks will strengthen Russia’s control of the occupied territories.
Kyiv officials continue to warn the West about the dangers of premature negotiations.
“What do you mean by ‘negotiation’? The Russian ultimatum is well known. This is unacceptable. So what are we talking about? Are you just hiding your words?
Widespread evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Russia in places such as Bucha and Izyum, which the Russian government denies, strengthens Ukraine’s insistence that Russia completely withdraw from its territory. ing.
But the global economic blow from the war and signs of a frayed political consensus in the West have raised uncertainty about how long the US and Europe will continue to support Kyiv’s position.
In recent months, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has had private conversations with Putin’s aides to warn Moscow not to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine to reduce the risk of escalating war. U.S. and allied officials said on Monday.
The aim is to prevent the risk of escalation and keep communication channels open, not to discuss resolving the war in Ukraine, officials said.
Ukraine continues to ask the West for more weapons to protect its cities from attacks by Russian missiles and drones and to help retake occupied territories.
In comments late Monday, Zelensky praised this week’s provisions of the US and Norway’s National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (Nasams) and the Spain-supplied Aspeed air defense system. It has severely damaged Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and caused numerous blackouts in Ukrainian cities.
“Ukrainian air defense is clearly not perfect, but we are gradually moving towards our goals,” Zelensky said. He added that Russia hit 50 towns and cities across Ukraine with missile strikes on Monday.
Ukrainian military offensives against Russian occupying forces in the south have slowed as both sides wear out after weeks of fighting and muddy ground in some areas has made it difficult for armored vehicles to advance.
In the southern Kherson region, Russian-installed authorities say they have nearly completed a large-scale evacuation campaign aimed at clearing the region’s capital of its population ahead of a defense plan against advancing Ukrainian forces. . Some of the Russian elite forces have left the city, according to Ukrainian officials, and Moscow has instead sent newly mobilized soldiers tasked with holding the front if Kyiv’s forces reach the city. brought together.
Western officials announced Tuesday that Russia has begun construction of defensive structures near occupied Mariupol
Russian occupation authorities in Mariupol are manufacturing a concrete anti-tank structure known as the Dragon’s Tooth as part of an effort to reinforce the area, the British Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday. Dragon teeth have also been sent to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions, which Russia partially controls and now claims to be part of its territory, the ministry said.
Reports of the construction of fortified lines far from active combat areas are evidence that Russia is seeking to consolidate occupied territories as battlefield fortunes shift in Kyiv’s favour, Western officials say. To tell.
The UK Ministry of Defence said: “This activity suggests that Russia is making significant efforts to prepare its defenses in depth behind the current front lines, and to protect Ukraine’s rapid recovery in the event of a breakthrough. It is highly likely that we will be able to forestall progress,” he said.
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