216 total views, 2 views today
Volodymr Zelensky said on Wednesday peace talks with Russia were sounding ‘more realistic’ but more time was needed for any deal to be in the interests of Ukraine.
Zelensky made the early morning statement after his team said a peace deal that will end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be struck with Vladimir Putin within one or two weeks because Russian forces will run out of fresh troops and supplies by then.
‘The meetings continue, and, I am informed, the positions during the negotiations already sound more realistic. But time is still needed for the decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine,’ Zelenskiy said in a video address on Wednesday, ahead of the next round of talks.
Meanwhile Oleksiy Arestovich, one of Zelensky’s top aides, said the war would end within weeks and a peace deal struck when Putin’s troops run out of resources, but warned that Russia could bring in new reinforcements to bolster their attack, which could prolong the conflict further.
‘We are at a fork in the road now,’ said Arestovich. ‘There will either be a peace deal struck very quickly, within a week or two, with troop withdrawal and everything, or there will be an attempt to scrape together some, say, Syrians for a round two and, when we grind them too, an agreement by mid-April or late April.
‘I think that no later than in May, early May, we should have a peace agreement. Maybe much earlier, we will see.’
The assessment echoes that of UK defence sources who say that Kyiv has Moscow ‘on the run’ and the Russian army could be just two weeks from ‘culmination point’ – after which ‘the strength of Ukraine’s resistance should become greater than Russia’s attacking force.’ Advances across Ukraine have already stopped as Moscow’s manpower runs short.
Earlier, Zelensky said that Ukraine must accept it will not become a member of NATO – a statement that will be music to the ears of Vladimir Putin and could pave the way for some kind of peace deal between the warring nations.
Zelensky, who has become a symbol of resistance to Russia’s onslaught over the last 20 days, said on Tuesday that ‘Ukraine is not a member of NATO’ and that ‘we have heard for years that the doors were open, but we also heard that we could not join. It’s a truth and it must be recognised.’
His statement, while making no firm commitments, will be seen as further opening the door to some kind of peace deal between Ukraine and Russia after negotiators hailed ‘substantial’ progress at the weekend – without giving any idea what such a deal would look like.
Ahead of the invasion, Putin had been demanding guarantees that Ukraine would never be admitted to NATO along with the removal of all the alliance’s troops and weapons from ex-Soviet countries. After being rebuffed by Kyiv, Washington and NATO he launched his ‘special military operation’ to ‘demilitarise’ and ‘de-Nazify’ the country.
Russian negotiators have softened their stance a little since then, saying they want Ukraine to declare neutrality, disarm, recognise Crimea as part of Russia and recognise the whole of the Donbass as independent. Ukraine has been demanding a ceasefire and the immediate withdrawal of all Russian forces. Talks have been ongoing this week and Moscow has made no mention of wider demands on NATO in recent days.
The Ukrainians said the talks have included a broader agreement that would lead to the withdrawal of Russian troops, reports the Times.
Zelensky again urged Western allies to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine and deplored NATO’s refusal to do so thus far, adding that the dire situation in his country has ‘allowed us to see who our true friends are these past 20 days’.
Speaking to the Canadian Parliament, Zelensky said: ‘Can you imagine calling other friendly nations, and asking them ‘please close the sky, close the airspace, stop the bombing’. And in turn they express their deep concerns about the situation.
‘We talk to our partners and they say ‘please hold on a little longer’,’ Zelensky said. Military analysts have said a no-fly zone is unlikely because the U.S. and its allies believe it could escalate the war into a nuclear confrontation.
Meanwhile, talks aimed at ending Russia’s military attack on Ukraine face ‘fundamental contradictions’, while compromise is possible, a member of the Ukrainian delegation and presidential aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, said Tuesday.
‘We’ll continue tomorrow. A very difficult and viscous negotiation process. There are fundamental contradictions. But there is certainly room for compromise,’ Podolyak tweeted after talks resumed earlier in the day, with both sides having signalled progress. He said the talks will continue Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, another aide to Zelenskyy, Ihor Zhovkva, struck a more optimistic note, saying that the negotiations had become ‘more constructive’ and that Russia had softened its stand by no longer airing its demands that Ukraine surrender.
Any deal between Moscow and Kyiv would face a myriad of difficulties, including whether troops would honour a ceasefire and whether Russia could be trusted to keep its end of the bargain. But both sides appear to be warming to the idea of a ceasefire, which would allow Ukraine to get badly-needed humanitarian aid into cities, some of which have now been under siege for weeks.
The hardest-hit is the Black Sea port city of Mariupol, which has been without water, food or electricity since March 1. Conditions continue to deteriorate there, but some evacuations have taken place in recent days – with 4,000 civilian vehicles leaving the city on Tuesday along a ‘humanitarian corridor’.
A senior Ukrainian official said about 20,000 people have managed to leave the besieged port city. It comes after a few dozen vehicles managed to leave yesterday.
In a further escalation of Putin’s invasion, Russian troops seized a hospital in the city and are holding 500 Ukrainians hostage, using them as human shields.
Russian forces rounded up 400 people from houses neighbouring the seaport’s hospital number two, along with 100 doctors and patients who were already inside, and are refusing to let them leave, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.
Conditions in other cities are also continuing to worsen. Shortly before Zelensky spoke, Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko put a three-day curfew in place in the capital – barring civilians from going outside and warning them to prepare for heavy bombardment by Putin’s men.
‘Today is a difficult and dangerous moment,’ Klitschko said in a statement on Telegram on Tuesday. ‘This is why I ask all Kyivites to get prepared to stay at home for two days, or if the sirens go off, in the shelters.’
Zelenskyy later said Russian air strikes hit four multi-story buildings in the city and killed dozens of people. The shelling ignited a huge fire in a 15-story apartment building and spurred a frantic rescue effort.
Putin’s stuttering invasion has forced even his close allies to admit, publicly, that things are not going to plan.
Russian National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov – once in charge of Putin’s personal security – admitted Tuesday that ‘not everything is going as fast as we would like’. But he still insisted Russia would achieve victory ‘step by step’.
Moscow has not captured any of Ukraine’s 10 biggest cities following its incursion that began on Feb. 24, the largest assault on a European state since 1945.
The Kremlin also said it may still opt to take control of large cities in Ukraine, despite false claims the purpose of its ‘special military operation’ is to ‘liberate’ the country.
But, as Russia’s invasion falters, its methods become more brutal – with cities increasingly coming under indiscriminate rocket fire. Kyiv, the capital, suffered another round of bombing on Tuesday morning as apartment blocks were set on fire by early-hours strikes.
Kharkiv came under attack again on Tuesday, with the city’s mayor saying that more than 600 buildings have been destroyed there since the start of Russia’s invasion.
‘Schools, nurseries, hospitals, clinics have been destroyed,’ said Mayor Ihor Terekhov in a televised interview on Tuesday. ‘The Russian army is constantly shelling (us) from the ground and the air.’
source: dailymail.co.ukFOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA