‘We have to make peace’ – ex-Zelensky aide
Ukraine has to “face reality” and admit that it cannot defeat Russia on the battlefield, Aleksey Arestovich, a former aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, said in a series of Telegram posts over the weekend. Instead, Kiev should strive for peace with Moscow in exchange for NATO guarantees, the politician said.
The belief in a “swift and beautiful victory” by Ukraine over Russia is nothing but an “illusion,” Arestovich said. The former presidential administration official was initially quite optimistic about Kiev’s prospects and was making statements to such effect up to the start of the much-hyped Ukrainian counteroffensive this summer. Now, however, he has said the time had come to part with this illusion to avoid a catastrophic scenario for Ukraine.
“The enemy is stronger in the economic, military, mobilizational and organizational sense,” he said, referring to Russia. The Western nations that support Ukraine have no interest in seeing Russia defeated, he added. “Under the current circumstances, a military victory over Russia does not seem possible,” Arestovich maintained.
A simple “belief in victory” is not enough, the former aide said, calling on Ukrainians to “get sober and face reality.”
If Kiev goes on with its “current ‘successful’ policy for another half a year,” Ukraine might “well forget about NATO,” he warned, adding that the nation’s Western backers are supposedly already contemplating providing Kiev with certain guarantees without a full membership.
The politician, who has announced his presidential ambitions, suggested that Ukraine demand NATO accession in exchange for a commitment not to try to win back territories controlled by Russia through military means. “All the talk about returning to the 1991 borders through military actions under the current circumstances can only be lip service,” he said.
The former aide has already offered a series of increasingly grim predictions of Ukraine’s future in recent months. He warned in August that an invasion of Crimea would cost 200,000 Ukrainian lives, and predicted that the conflict between Moscow and Kiev could drag on until 2035.
He also called for a change in leadership. The government led by Zelensky allowed corruption and incompetence to flourish and ultimately failed to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, Arestovich said in mid-October. Earlier this week, he also said the nation’s political leadership does not take the situation on the ground into account and is chasing symbolic victories instead of pursuing an “adequate strategy.”
Arestovich’s statement came just days after Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valery Zaluzhny, told The Economist that the conflict had reached a World War I-style stalemate but that Russia had an advantage due to its larger population and greater resources.