Restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity only basis for talks with Russia - Kuleba
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, stated this in an interview with Germany's media group Funke.
"I appreciate everyone who seeks to achieve peace through diplomatic initiatives, myself being a diplomat. But how can such an initiative work? Should the cost of peace be that Russia remains in the occupied territories? If the Kremlin understands that it can conquer territories by military force, why would they stop? They would likely take a break and unleash a new war in a year's time," Kuleba said, commenting on the possibility of ending the war through diplomacy.
He also stated that no one should fall for Vladimir Putin's tricks involving the claim that continued supplies of Western weapons to Ukraine will allegedly lead to escalation and the dragging of the West into the war as a direct party.
"In everything that happened after February 24, the Russian narrative was as follows: ‘Don't take this step, otherwise you will escalate and go to war on us.’ The Russians are trying to achieve their goals through intimidation tactics. However, so far, no one, except Ukraine, is at war against Russia. I’d like to clarify one thing: many of those who promote peace and diplomacy with a pained face actually just want Ukraine to be defeated by Russia," said the head of Ukrainian diplomacy.
He emphasized that "only one thing can stand at the outset of any negotiations with Russia: the territorial integrity of Ukraine must be fully restored." "This is not up for discussion. We have learned a bitter lesson: if you give Russia a pinky finger, it will tear your whole hand off," Kuleba added.
Commenting on the battle of Bakhmut, the minister said that Ukrainian troops will hold the city. "Those who complain that the defense costs too many lives should not forget that, if we withdraw, another city will become a new Bakhmut. That is why our soldiers are fighting for every square centimeter of our land," the top diplomat said.
The head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announced that a new Russian offensive had already begun in the east. "Indeed, their offensive has already begun. The Russians plan to increase the intensity of hostilities and continue them until spring. But their plan won’t work out. According to their plans, they should have long captured Bakhmut," he said.
Speaking about the supply of tanks by Western partners, Kuleba pointed to the importance of "armament, which the Western nations have promised since early January, to be sent on time." "The sooner we get military equipment, the sooner the war will end," the minister said.
Kuleba emphasized that Ukraine’s most urgent needs today include "artillery rounds, tanks, and armored vehicles, as well as more air defense systems."
Regarding the possible transfer of combat aircraft, the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that the fighter jets would strengthen the country's air defenses and play an important role in a counteroffensive.
"We are most interested in fighter jets from the USA, Great Britain, France, and Germany. These countries have the largest production capacities and largest aircraft fleets," he said.
According to the minister, so far no country has undertaken to send fighter jets to Ukraine, "but some governments, such as Great Britain, have announced the training of Ukrainian pilots on Western fighter jets – others will do so in the near future."
As Ukrinform reported earlier, the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Olha Stefanishyna, said Ukraine would sit down at the negotiating table with Russia only if some preliminary conditions are met, and called on Western partners to join the process. She named two main prerequisites for the start of negotiations: first, accountability for the crimes committed, which would meet the Ukrainian public demand, and respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
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