Ukraine aims for peace talks with Russia by end of February

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said his government is aiming to have a peace summit by the end of February to discuss putting an end to the war. Dmytro Kuleba, while suggesting Ukraine would do everything it could to end the war in 2023, acknowledged that diplomacy could play a key role in resolution. He said the talks would be held preferably at the United Nations with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a possible mediator. The proposed dates for the summit would coincide with the one year anniversary of the beginning of the Russian invasion, which began on February 24. 

“Every war ends in a diplomatic way. Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table,” Mr Kuleba said.

“The United Nations could be the best venue for holding this summit because this is not about doing a favour to a certain country. This is really about bringing everyone on board.” 

Asked about whether they would invite Russia to the summit, he said that first that country would need to be seated to be prosecuted for war crimes at an international court. “They can only be invited to this step in this way,” he added.

Regarding Mr Guterres’ role, Mr Kuleba described the secretary general as an “efficient mediator” and a “man of principle and integrity”.

 

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Mr Kuleba said: “He has proven himself to be an efficient mediator and an efficient negotiator. 

 “Most importantly, [he has proven himself] as a man of principle and integrity. So we would welcome his active participation.”

But the foreign minister again downplayed comments by Russian authorities that they are ready for negotiations.

“They regularly say that they are ready for negotiations, which is not true, because everything they do on the battlefield proves the opposite,” he said.

He later added that he was “absolutely satisfied” with the results of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the US last week. 

He revealed that the US government has made a special plan to get the Patriot missile battery ready to be operational in the country in less than six months. Usually, the training takes up to a year.

The state-of-the-art air defence missiles will allow Ukrainian forces to more successfully repel Russian strikes. 

Such attacks have been destroying energy infrastructure across the country and leaving millions of civilians without power.

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In recent days, Vladimir Putin has claimed he is ready to negotiate but that Ukraine is unwilling to talk. 

In a state television interview released on Christmas Day, the Russian leader said he was “prepared to negotiate some acceptable outcomes with all the participants of this process”. 

He then said it was “not us who refuse talks, it’s them”, which is a gaslighting technique the Kremlin has routinely employed since peace negotiations broke down at the end of March. 

But the Russian prerequisites for such peace talks preclude meaningful conversation, effectively undermining their suggestion that they are ready for negotiations and that it is Ukraine who are preventing peace. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has called for Ukraine to recognise the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson as Russian, despite the annexation of those Oblasts being rejected, almost all of its inhabitants wishing to remain in Ukraine and Putin’s Armed Forces continually conceding territories in those areas. 

Such a request does not constitute a starting point for talks; it is, itself, an implied rejection of the possibility of peace negotiations.

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