Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his country is not prepared to hold peace talks with Russia, a source in the French government has told the state news agency AFP. He reportedly made the position clear when speaking to leaders of the G7 on Monday.
“President Zelensky gave a very clear response that now is not the time for negotiations. Ukraine will negotiate when it is in a position to do so, that is, when it has basically re-established a position of strength,” a French official cited by AFP said.
“In the meantime, he needs to end the war as quickly as possible,” the official added.
The Ukrainian president has repeatedly rejected calls to negotiate with Russia, claiming that the time for diplomacy will only come after Russian troops are pushed out of Ukraine entirely.
He has stuck to that uncompromising position even as Ukrainian troops have suffered several defeats on the battlefield in Donbass. Kiev has lost roughly a quarter of its territory in the east and south since late February when Russia launched its offensive.
In March, an attempt to negotiate a peaceful solution was made with Turkey’s mediation. Moscow says Kiev offered several concessions on Ukraine’s future neutral status and that the Kremlin penned a formal document based on those suggestions, but Kiev has ignored it.
Moscow said Ukraine was emboldened by the supplies of heavier Western arms and encouragement from politicians like UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who told officials to fight on. This won’t change the course of the Russian campaign in Ukraine, Moscow stated, so the delays only prolong the conflict and cause unnecessary casualties and damage for the parties involved.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.
Reporting from RT.