Western attempts to get Ukraine to negotiate with Moscow after a string of major military victories by Kiev are “bizarre” and amount to surrender, a key adviser to the Ukrainian presidency told AFP.
“When you have the initiative on the battlefield, it’s a bit bizarre to get suggestions like: ‘You won’t be able to do everything by military means anyway, you have to negotiate,'” said Advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Mykhaylo Podolyak.
That would mean that the country “that regains its territories must capitulate to the country that loses,” he added during an interview with AFP from his office in the presidential building in Kyiv.
US media recently reported that some senior officials have begun encouraging Ukraine to consider talks, which Zelenskyy has so far refused without a prior withdrawal of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory.
“There has to be a mutual acknowledgment that military victory in the truest sense of the word is unlikely to be achievable by military means,” top US General Mark Milley said earlier this month, estimating there is “a window of opportunity for negotiations.” .
According to Podolyak, Moscow “did not make a direct proposal” to Kyiv for peace talks, preferring to transmit them through intermediaries and even raising the possibility of a ceasefire.
– Negotiating “makes no sense” –
Kyiv sees such talks as mere maneuvering by the Kremlin to gain some breathing space on the ground and prepare a new offensive.
“Russia does not want negotiations. Russia is conducting a communication campaign called ‘Negotiations’,” said the Ukrainian Presidential Advisor.
“It will simply stall for time. In the meantime, it will train its mobilized forces, find additional weapons” and reinforce its positions,” he warned.
Despite Russia’s heavy military defeats in recent weeks, including Ukraine’s recapture of the key city of Kherson, President Vladimir Putin still believes “he can destroy Ukraine, that’s his obsession,” and negotiations with him “make no sense.” ‘ Podolyak argued.
The West cannot pressure Ukraine to negotiate, he stressed.
“Our partners still believe that it is possible to return to the pre-war period if Russia is a reliable partner.”
After massive Russian withdrawals from the Kyiv region in March and then from the northeastern Kharkiv region in September, the liberation of Kherson this month marked a “fundamental” turning point in the conflict, according to Podolyak.
Spurred on by its string of military victories, Ukraine “can’t afford a break” in its counteroffensive, despite the arrival of winter cold and snow, which are aggravating the situation on the ground.
“Today, even a small pause only adds to the losses suffered by Ukraine,” the official said.
– Longer range missiles –
Moscow has been shelling the country’s energy infrastructure for weeks, plunging millions of homes into darkness.
The Zaporizhia regions in southern Ukraine and Lugansk in the east are now the “key directions” for the army, Podolyak said, but refused to speculate on the possibility of a military operation to retake the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed back in 2014.
Ukrainian authorities are demanding an increase in Western arms supplies, which is “very important” in winter,” he added.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used his first visit to Kyiv on Saturday to offer a major new air defense package, including 125 anti-aircraft guns.
“We still need 150-200 tanks, about 300 armored vehicles”, a hundred artillery systems, 50-70 multiple rocket launcher systems, including the formidable American HIMARS, of which Ukraine already has several units, as well as “10-15 anti-aircraft defense systems, around the sky to close,” said Podolyak.
He also cited US ATACMS missiles, which have a range of 300 kilometers (185 miles). The range of weapons currently available to Ukraine is little more than 80 kilometers.
For Podolyak, such missiles would “bring the end of the war closer” by allowing Ukraine to “destroy large Russian military depots” located deep in occupied territories that are currently inaccessible.
Kyiv “doesn’t have to” attack military targets inside Russia, the adviser said.
“The war will end when we regain control of our borders and Russia is afraid of Ukraine.”