Western attempts to persuade Ukraine to negotiate with Moscow after Kyiv’s series of major military victories are “barbaric” and tantamount to demanding its surrender, a key adviser to the Ukrainian president told AFP.
“When you have an initiative on the battlefield, it’s a little strange to receive proposals like: “You can’t do everything by military means anyway, you need to negotiate,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
This would mean that a country “that is reclaiming its territories must capitulate to a country that is losing,” he added in an interview with AFP in his office in the presidential administration building in Kyiv.
US media recently reported that some senior officials have begun urging Ukraine to consider negotiations, which Zelenskiy has so far rejected without first withdrawing Russian troops from all over Ukraine.
“There must be mutual recognition that a military victory, perhaps in the truest sense of the word, may not be achievable by military means,” senior U.S. General Mark Milley said earlier this month, appreciating that there was a “window of opportunity for negotiations.” .
According to Podolyak, Moscow made “no direct proposals” to Kyiv for peace talks, preferring to mediate them and even raise the possibility of a ceasefire.
Negotiations don’t make sense
In Kyiv, such talk is perceived as a mere maneuvering by the Kremlin in order to get a breather on the ground and prepare a new offensive.
“Russia does not want negotiations. Russia is conducting a communication campaign called “negotiations,” said an adviser to the President of Ukraine.
“It will just take time. In the meantime, she will prepare her mobilized forces, find additional weapons and strengthen her positions,” he warned.
Despite Russia’s heavy military defeats in recent weeks, including the return of the key southern city of Kherson to Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin still believes “he can destroy Ukraine, it’s his obsession” and negotiations with him “do not make sense” , says Podolyak.
He denied that the West was trying to force Ukraine into negotiations.
“Our partners still believe that a return to the pre-war era, when Russia is a reliable partner, is possible.”
After the massive withdrawal of Russian troops from the Kyiv region in March and then from the Kharkiv region in the northeast in September, the liberation of Kherson this month marked a “fundamental” turning point in the conflict, Podolyak said.
Encouraged by a string of military victories, Ukraine cannot afford to pause in its counteroffensive, despite the arrival of winter cold and snowfall, which complicate the situation on the ground.
“Today, even a small pause only increases the losses that Ukraine has suffered,” the official said.
longer range missiles
Moscow has been shelling the country’s energy infrastructure for weeks now, plunging millions of homes into darkness.
The Zaporizhia region in southern Ukraine and the Luhansk region in the east are now “key areas” for the army, Podolyak said, while refusing to speculate on the possibility of a military operation to retake the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed back in 2014.
The Ukrainian authorities are calling for an increase in the supply of Western weapons, which is “very important” in winter, he added.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used his first visit to Kyiv on Saturday to propose a major new air defense package including 125 anti-aircraft guns.
“We still need from 150 to 200 tanks, about 300 armored vehicles”, a hundred artillery systems, 50-70 multiple launch rocket systems, including the formidable American HIMARS, which Ukraine already has in several units, as well as “10-15 anti-tank installations “. – air defense systems to close the sky,” Podolyak said.
He also mentioned the American ATACMS missiles, which have a range of 300 kilometers (185 miles). The range of Ukraine’s weapons barely exceeds 80 kilometers.
According to Podolyak, such missiles “will hasten the end of the war” by allowing Ukraine to “destroy large Russian military depots” located deep in the occupied territories, which are currently inaccessible.
According to the adviser, Kyiv “does not need” to attack military installations in Russia.
“The war will end when we regain control of our borders and when Russia fears Ukraine.”