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10 Aug, 2023 20:27

Zelensky will never negotiate with Putin – Ukrainian FM

Dmitry Kuleba has suggested that regime change in Moscow is a prerequisite for peace talks
Zelensky will never negotiate with Putin – Ukrainian FM

If and when Kiev decides to negotiate with Moscow, it will not do so with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba declared in an interview with the Italian outlet Corriere della Sera, published on Thursday.

Putin “has committed too many very serious crimes,” Kuleba, who is recovering from Covid-19, told the outlet over the telephone. “It is clear to us that we will never be able to see Putin and [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky sitting at the same table.”

“We can negotiate with Russia after the withdrawal of their troops from our territories, but not with Putin,” Kuleba insisted.

Asked if this would mean an escalation of the conflict, Kuleba argued that “the worst has already happened, nothing can surprise us anymore,” and that the war had been total from the beginning. 

“The counter-offensive will soon give us victories and we will continue to fight, we have no alternatives,” he added.

“It’s not easy for our soldiers to advance. But, eventually, we will,” Kuleba said of the offensive, which he described as “progressing slowly but steadily.” He maintained that time was on Ukraine’s side “for the simple fact that our military capabilities are growing, while Russia’s are decreasing,” and that Kiev is “counting on the fact that the war will end in our favor at some point.”

Kuleba made sure to thank Italy for the weapons and supplies it had delivered to Ukraine, noting that nothing would be enough “until we have won this war.” He also asked for even more artillery, ammunition, and anti-aircraft systems.

NATO-trained Ukrainian brigades, equipped with Western tanks and armored vehicles, have not been able to overcome the Russian defenses on the southern front since early June, at a cost of an estimated 43,000 dead, according to Moscow. Meanwhile, Russian troops have advanced in the north, threatening the Ukrainian hold on the key city of Kupiansk.

In October 2022, Zelensky banned any Ukrainian from negotiating with Putin. The following month, he proposed a “peace platform” that demanded unconditional Russian withdrawal from territories Kiev claims as its own, including Crimea. Kiev has insisted on that as the only acceptable framework for talks ever since. Russia has rejected it as a delusional ultimatum, adding that Ukraine recognizing reality is a prerequisite for any peace talks.