‘No compromise’ with Moscow, Kiev vows
The government in Kiev has not given up on its “peace formula” and rejects all compromise positions, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s adviser Mikhail Podoliak announced on Monday. His comments came after the Wall Street Journal suggested Ukraine had softened its stance during the peace conference in Saudi Arabia.
“The only basic ‘foundation for negotiations’ is President Zelensky’s Peace Formula,” Podoliak tweeted. “There can be no compromise positions such as ‘immediate ceasefires’ and ‘negotiations here and now’ that give Russia time to stay in the occupied territories. Only the withdrawal of Russian troops to the 1991 border.”
Ukraine accuses Russia of “occupying” not just Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson – four regions that chose to join Moscow last year – but also Crimea, which voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia after the 2014 US-backed coup in Kiev.
“Any scenario of a ceasefire and freezing of the war in Ukraine in the current disposition will mean only one thing – Russia’s actual victory and [President Vladimir] Putin’s personal triumph,” Podoliak added several hours later. “This would be a great defeat for the Western world and the end of the current global security order.”
He also claimed that Moscow would use a “Minsk 3” to rearm and prepare for the “next round” of war, which would return “bigger, bloodier, and better prepared” as soon as “political leaders in key Western countries change.”
Minsk 1 and Minsk 2 were ceasefires mediated by Paris and Berlin in 2014 and 2015, after Kiev failed to crush the rebellion in Donetsk and Lugansk by force. The German and French leaders involved in the talks admitted last year that they were buying time so NATO could arm Ukraine for a war against Russia.
Podoliak did not specify what prompted his tweets. However, a Wall Street Journal article about the weekend’s talks in Jeddah – which suggested Ukraine had given up on its hardline position – circulated widely on Russian-language social media on Monday.
The talks, to which Russia was not invited, did not appear to accomplish anything. However, the Journal quoted “a senior European official” and two diplomats to report that Ukraine “didn’t push again for its peace plan to be accepted” and “didn’t press the point” about the demand for Russian withdrawal.
Moscow has rejected Zelensky’s “peace formula,” a set of ten demands amounting to Russia’s unconditional surrender, as “a useless ultimatum” that only serves to prolong the hostilities.
“There can be no negotiation process in the current disposition. The status quo must be changed on the battlefield. This means... more weapons, missiles and aircraft,” Podoliak demanded on Monday afternoon.
The US and its allies have already supplied Ukraine with over $100 billion worth of weapons, ammunition and equipment, arguing that Russia “must lose” while insisting they are not actually involved in the conflict.