Ukraine will decide ‘what victory looks like’ – US
Ukraine will determine the terms of any peace deal with Russia, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told the state-run Voice of America broadcaster on Friday.
While others have suggested that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky should cede some territory for peace, Kirby said Washington is preparing for what could be “a prolonged conflict.”
With the offensive in Ukraine passing the four-month mark on Friday, Russian forces continue to seize territory in Donbass. Moscow claims that up to 2,000 Ukrainian troops, ‘nationalists’ and foreign fighters are encircled in the region. Meanwhile, Kiev recently admitted losing as many as 1,000 troops per day, and is reportedly replenishing its beleaguered forces with conscripts, women and convicts.
Nevertheless, Kirby insisted that Ukraine can fight on, and told Voice of America that “Mr. Zelensky is going to get to determine what victory looks like.”
“Of course, we want Ukraine to succeed on the battlefield, and we want them to succeed at the negotiating table, if and when it comes to that,” Kirby continued. “We’re not at that stage right now. But we believe that President Zelensky is the one who gets to determine what victory looks like.
“Our job is to make sure that he has the tools available to him to do that in the most efficient, effective way.”
The US has already committed nearly $54 billion in direct and indirect military and economic aid to Ukraine, with the latest $450 million tranche of weapons to include four long-range rocket artillery systems. Kirby seemingly brushed off concerns that these systems could be used to launch strikes across the Russian border, saying on Friday that they are “Ukrainian property, and they get to determine how they’re going to use [them].”
Kirby added that “we want to see Ukraine’s territorial integrity fully restored,” which in the eyes of Kiev would involve seizing Crimea, which voted to join Russia in 2014. Several Ukrainian military and political leaders have stated that they will use NATO-supplied weapons to do exactly this.
Kirby and other officials at the State Department and Pentagon have given Ukraine carte blanche to wage war as it sees fit, even as other government officials in the US have reportedly called for restraint. However, if anonymously sourced CNN reports are to be believed, American, British and EU leaders are holding discussions about Ukraine’s future without Kiev’s involvement.
While NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently suggested that Ukraine may end up ceding territory in exchange for peace, he has since stated that the terms of a settlement will be decided by Zelensky. Likewise, although Zelensky has accused French President Emmanuel Macron of pressing him to give up land as part of a peace deal, Macron himself has since said that “Ukraine will decide when the conditions are met to build peace.”