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9 May, 2023 14:52

Ukraine peace talks now impossible – UN chief

Antonio Guterres has told El Pais that both Kiev and Moscow are convinced they can secure a military victory and are therefore unwilling to compromise
Ukraine peace talks now impossible – UN chief

There is little chance that Ukraine and Russia will sit at the negotiating table anytime soon, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told Spain’s El País newspaper, noting that both countries still believe they can achieve their goals militarily.

In an interview published on Monday, Guterres said: “Unfortunately, I believe that peace negotiations are not possible at this time.” He explained that Russia seems unwilling “at the moment to withdraw from the territories it occupies” while “Ukraine is hoping to retake them” by force.

The diplomat added that – despite the circumstances – the UN is nevertheless doing all it can to get Kiev and Moscow to negotiate. He cited the grain deal – whose future is currently hanging in balance as Russia is refusing to renew it past May 18 – as the “most important initiative” so far.

According to Guterres, high-ranking representatives are working to arrange a meeting of the parties involved in Istanbul to extend the deal. The official acknowledged that Moscow’s objections are justified, adding that while the export of food and fertilizers from the country is not under sanctions, it is effectively being blocked by “indirect obstacles that remain.

Speaking to Türkiye’s Haberturk TV on Sunday, Ibrahim Kalin, a top Turkish presidential adviser on foreign policy, opined that, “This war will not end with positional gains, but with a new security agreement between the two global blocs.” He argued that the current conflict is effectively a conflict between Russia and the collective West, which echoes Moscow’s position.

This war is not between Russia and Ukraine, but between Russia and the Western bloc. Cold War 2.0,” Kalin explained.

The Turkish official noted, however, that at present there is little chance for dialogue as the current “international climate is in favor of war rather than peace.

Meanwhile, also on Sunday, Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger told CBS News that the conflict in Ukraine may be approaching a turning point. The veteran diplomat predicted that peace talks under the auspices of China might take place by the end of 2023.

The EU and the US were quick to disregard a twelve-point peace plan proposed by Beijing on the anniversary of the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed some of the elements of the document, while Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky agreed with some of its points but has maintained the position of not negotiating with Putin’s government.