Ukraine says chance of Russia negotiations are ‘slim to none’

Ukraine and Russia negotiations 'between slim to none' says Sak

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Vladimir Putin may have said he is “open to negotiations” on Friday but the chances of “meaningful” discussions with the Kremlin are “slim to none”, a Ukrainian official has said. Advisor to the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Yuriy Sak said they would not entertain conversations with Russia unless the “non-negotiable pre-condition” of a withdrawal of the enemy forces from the country, as defined by “internationally-recognised borders” was carried out. Mr Sak said he did not believe Russia would ever fulfil that prerequisite and, as a result, the only means of ending the war involved the total “defeat of the enemy on the battlefield”. 

Mr Sak said: “As for the Kremlin, if they had been interested in negotiations or talks in good faith, all they would have to do is start withdrawing some of their troops.

“That has been our non-negotiable pre-condition for any talk pretty much since the first day of this large-scale invasion. 

“This is not going to change. We need to restore our territorial integrity within the internationally-recognised borders and then, and only then, we can start negotiating about things like reparations, compensation, to Ukraine for all the damages and atrocities that have been done to our country and our people. 

“We would also set up an international tribunal to bring to justice those who were behind these war crimes and behind this genocide. 

“As for our international partners, we know and we have been assured many times, and this has been voiced publicly, that there can be no negotiations without Ukraine’s sovereign will. 

“While it is of course normal that our partners are looking for ways to find a solution to this war and to end it, everybody understands that the likelihood of some meaningful negotiations with the Kremlin is between slim and none. 

“This means that Ukraine will have to defeat the enemy on the battlefield, which is why all our international partners on a daily basis continue to provide us with the necessary military assistance.

“We are using those weapons very efficiently.” 

On Friday, discussing comments made by US President Joe Biden that he would be willing to speak to Vladimir Putin to negotiate the end of the war in Ukraine, a Kremlin spokesman said Putin was “open” to engaging in dialogue. 

Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “The president of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations in order to ensure our interests.” 

But Peskov also said that the refusal of the United States to recognise “the new territories”, referring to the four annexed regions across the east and south of Ukraine, as Russian was hindering the potential for talks. 

He said: “This significantly complicates the search for mutual ground for discussions.” 

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Meanwhile, Russian troops in Ukraine are deliberately attacking the country’s museums, libraries and other cultural institutions, according to a report issued Friday by the US and Ukrainian chapters of the international writers’ organisation PEN.

“Culture is not collateral damage in the war against Ukraine; it’s a target, a central pillar of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justification for the war,” the report stated. 

“Putin has repeatedly claimed that Ukrainian culture and language simply don’t exist. By targeting art museums, music halls, libraries, theatres and historical sites, he attempts to make it so.”

PEN cited Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture as saying that 529 “cultural heritage and cultural institutions” have been destroyed or damaged since the war started on February 24. The figure includes both sites of national importance and cultural venues in towns and villages, the report said.

The list includes one of the war’s most notorious incidents – the bombing in March of the main drama theater in the city of Mariupol, where hundreds of people were sheltering from the city’s siege. Some 600 people died in the attack. 

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