Zelensky rules out return to Minsk peace deals
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia can be stopped, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said in his video address to the G20 on Tuesday, adding that peace should be reached outside the Minsk format.
“I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped,” Zelensky told world leaders in Bali, Indonesia.
The conflict must end “fairly” and on the basis of the UN Charter, the Ukrainian leader insisted. However, he pointed out that Ukraine “shouldn’t be offered compromises with its sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.”
“Obviously, Russia’s words can’t be trusted, and there will be no Minsk-3 that Russia will violate immediately after the signing,” Zelensky claimed, adding that Moscow mustn’t be allowed to freeze the conflict and regroup its forces.
“We need effective security guarantees,” he said. According to the president, the Ukrainian government has already prepared a draft of a new pact, called the ‘Kiev Security Compact.’ The deal, which he claimed would make another conflict in Eastern Europe impossible, could be signed at an international conference that could be held this year, Zelensky claimed.
The rejection of the Minsk format by the Ukrainian president “absolutely confirms” the unwillingness of Kiev to negotiate with Moscow, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked to comment on Zelensky’s G20 speech.
The Minsk-1 and Minsk-2 accords were signed in 2014 and 2015 through the mediation of Germany, France, and Russia. They were designed to put an end to the fighting between Kiev and the Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk by giving them special status within the Ukrainian state. Kiev’s failure to implement the agreements has been cited by the Kremlin as a key reason for the launch of its military operation in late February. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that the Minsk agreements were only used by Kiev to buy time to “create powerful armed forces.”
Zelensky has been sending mixed messages about the possibility of peace talks with Moscow throughout the conflict. Last month, he signed a decree, which officially made it impossible for him to negotiate with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The move was made in response to the inclusion of Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, and the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk into the Russian state.
However, in an interview with CNN last week the Ukrainian leader claimed that he actually hadn’t closed the door on negotiations.
This coincided with reports that Washington has been privately pushing Kiev to drop its uncompromising rejection of the peace process. Last week, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley suggested that a Ukrainian victory might not be achieved militarily and that winter may provide an opportunity to begin talks with Moscow.