Zelensky says he’s open to ‘genuine’ talks with Russia – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

Zelensky says he’s open to ‘genuine’ talks with Russia

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was open to talks with Russia, but only to “genuine” negotiations that would restore Ukraine’s borders, provide compensation for Russian attacks and punish those responsible for war crimes.

The comments, made in an overnight speech, came just days after a Washington Post report that the United States wanted Ukraine to show a willingness to talk, worried that Kyiv’s overly uncompromising appearance could hurt its supporting cause.

Speaking before the speech to world leaders at COP27, Zelensky said: “Anyone who is serious about the climate agenda should also be serious about the need to immediately stop Russian aggression, restore our territorial integrity, and force Russia into genuine peace negotiations,” reported RTE.

Ukraine has repeatedly proposed such talks, but “we always received insane Russian responses with new terrorist attacks, shelling or blackmail. Once again – restoration of territorial integrity, respect for the UN Charter, compensation for all damages caused by the war, punishment of every war criminal and guarantees that this will not happen again. These are completely understandable conditions,” he said, reported RTE.

Since Russia announced the annexation of Ukrainian territory in late September, Zelensky has decreed that Kyiv would never negotiate with Moscow as long as Vladimir Putin remains Russia’s president.

Kyiv officials have repeated this position in recent days, saying that Kyiv would be willing to negotiate with Putin’s future successor.

“Negotiating with Putin would mean giving up, and we would never give him this gift,” Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica published today, reports RTE.

Russia was asking Ukraine to cede the territory as a prerequisite for the talks, which made them impossible for now, Podolyak said: “Society will never accept this. The Russian army will leave Ukrainian territory, and then dialogue will come,” according to RTE.

Yesterday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated Moscow’s position that it is open to talks but that Kyiv rejects them. Moscow has repeatedly stated that it will not negotiate the territory it claims to have annexed from Ukraine.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed today that Zelensky will attend a Summit of the Group of 20 major economies next week, most likely attending virtually.

It comes after Zelensky said last week that he would not have participated if Putin had attended the summit in Indonesia, but his spokeswoman, Serhiy Nykyforov, would not say whether Zelensky had changed his position.

It is not yet clear whether the Russian president will attend the G20 summit in Indonesia.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hopes the UK and its allies can use the G20 meeting later this month to “confront” Putin or any Russian representatives attending the gathering of world leaders.

According to RTE,the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister is of the view that it would be right that collectively with our allies we confront any Russian official… who attends the G20 about their ongoing illegal war and use the same messages we have been using in one voice for so many months now.”

Ukrainian forces have been on the offensive in recent months as Russia is reorganizing to defend the areas of Ukraine it still occupies after withdrawing hundreds of thousands of reservists.

Russia evacuated civilians from the occupied areas, particularly from the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, in an operation that Ukraine says includes forced deportations, a war crime. Moscow says it is putting people to safety.

Separately, the Russian security services (FSB) announced the arrest of nine members of an “intelligence and sabotage group” of the Ukrainian forces.

The FSB in a statement accused the group of planning attacks against senior Russian-based officials working in Kherson.

Explosives, grenades, ammunition and a car bomb were seized during the arrests and an “international terrorism” investigation was opened, the FSB said.

The next big battle is expected to be over a small piece of Russian-held land on the west bank of the Dnipro River, which includes the city of Kherson, the only regional capital Russia has captured since its invasion in February.

The city suffered power cuts after strikes on Sunday for which Moscow and Kyiv blamed each other.

Kremlin-installed authorities said electricity had been fully restored in their main city, after blaming Kyiv for the attacks that cut off water and electricity supplies.

News of the outages followed reports from Russian officials that the Kakhovka dam, also in Kherson, had been damaged by a Ukrainian attack.

The dam supplies the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014 and served as a springboard for the start of the Ukraine campaign.

Moscow forces have said they are turning Kherson into a “fortress”.

A source yesterday confirmed reports that White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan had held talks with Russian officials to prevent the conflict from escalating. Those conversations were first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The Kremlin declined to comment on them.

The White House has not denied the talks, but says it will not make diplomatic moves on Ukraine without Kyiv’s involvement.

Midterm elections for Congress are held in the United States. Although most candidates on both sides strongly support Ukraine, some right-wing Republican candidates have expressed doubts about the cost of US military aid.

Zelensky urged the United States to stay united and take inspiration from Ukraine, as he was awarded the United States Medal of Freedom.

“I call on you to maintain unwavering unity, as it is now, until that very day when we all hear those important words we have been dreaming of… Until we hear that peace has finally been restored. Democracies must not stop on their way to the victory. Ukrainians have different views on life and politics. As the case was in previous years, we felt divided arguing whether we would ever be able to stand together. But when Russia decided to destroy our freedom and wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth, we immediately got united and we keep this unity,” reports RTE.

US support for Ukraine would be “unflinching and unwavering” regardless of the outcome of the congressional elections, Jean-Pierre said.

This afternoon, Sweden’s new Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson will seek President Tayyip Erdogan’s approval for his country’s offer to join NATO at a meeting at the presidential palace this afternoon.

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO in May in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Turkey raised objections, citing security concerns related to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other groups, and a ban on exporting weapons.

The three countries signed a memorandum in June that lifted Turkey’s veto and asked Sweden and Finland to address their remaining concerns.

The request was approved by 28 of the 30 NATO countries.

The Nordic countries said this week they were optimistic Hungary would also withdraw its objections.

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