Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke at an event hosted by the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House. The main subject was Putin’s War, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine should be called, but the most significant part was in the forum where President Zelensky defined the terms for ending the war.
When Russian troops crossed the border with Ukraine on February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin set out his goals for his cakewalk to Kiev as 1) removal of the “nazis” and “drug addicts” ruling Ukraine, 2) disbanding the Ukrainian armed forces, 3) banning membership in NATO and requiring permanent “neutrality,” 4) banning “nazi” influences in Ukrainian politics, 5) recognizing the annexation of Crimea as legal, and 6) recognizing the independence of the fake republics created by Putin in 2014. In addition to those demands, Putin demanded that Russian be made an official “second” language of Ukraine because the number of Russian speakers in Ukraine has dropped about ten percentage points since Ukrainian independence, and it is difficult to meddle and create divisions unless you have a pressure point like language.
If you want to look for a model for these demands, you should look at the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s ultimatum to Serbia in July 1914. Just like Austro-Hungary demands required Serbia to give Vienna control of Serbia’s foreign and domestic policy, Putin’s terms for ending the war were nothing less than making Ukraine a province of Russia. These wildly inappropriate demands were met with the scorn they so richly deserved. It was not a serious proposal once Ukraine decided to resist.
Since the invasion, there have been a few meetings of Ukrainian and Orc; sorry, I mean Russian representatives but very little movement. Ukraine’s position has remained that any cease-fire must be accompanied by Russian forces withdrawing to their positions as of February 23. Any discussions on the status of Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk must take place after a cessation of hostilities and Russian withdrawal, and the results of those discussions will be decided by a national referendum, including the votes of Ukrainians who are refugees. The status of the Russian language will be determined by a referendum amending the constitution. Nothing has been offered by Ukraine that would give Putin even a fig leaf of victory. READ Proposed ‘Fifteen Point Peace Plan’ in Russia-Ukraine War Is a Total Defeat for Putin, but Zelensky Is Biding His Time, and Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Reaches Its Culmination Point and Zelensky Plays Hardball in the Peace Negotiations.
Despite what Putin’s fellatistos say, 1) Ukraine, not NATO or the EU, makes the decision on when to negotiate and what terms are acceptable, 2) Russia has made no effort to end the war short of demanding unconditional surrender by Ukraine, and 3) no one in the West is forcing Ukraine to fight, that was a decision made by President Zelensky on February 24 (“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride”) and has been ratified thousands of times each day since as Ukrainian soldiers fight for their country’s independence.
In yesterday’s forum, President Zelensky upped the ante.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky outlined his conditions Friday for entering peace talks with Russia, demanding a restoration of preinvasion borders, the return of more than 5 million refugees, membership in the European Union and accountability from Russian military leaders before Kyiv would consider laying down its arms.
Zelensky’s slate of requirements, which he listed during an online forum organized by Chatham House, are in direct conflict with the military objectives Russian leaders have articulated as they bear down on the Donbas region and southern Ukraine — inflicting additional casualties Friday in apparent violation of a cease-fire.
Newsweek has further details.
Zelensky addressed a virtual meeting of the British Chatham House think tank on Friday, telling attendees that Ukraine wants to “regain our territories” and that his country has “a bright future,” despite “the cruelty of the Russian forces.”
The president said his priority is the “integrity of our borders” and the ability of all displaced people to return to their homes.
“I was elected by the people of Ukraine as president of Ukraine, not as president of a mini-Ukraine of some kind,” Zelensky said to a question about Kyiv’s conditions for a peace deal with Russia.
“This is a very important point, and I would like us to realize we need some arrangements in terms of talks to stop the killing.”
“We can use diplomatic channels to regain our territories,” the president said. The minimum Zelensky’s government expects, he said, is to return to “the security of the situation as of the 23rd of February,” one day before Russia’s latest invasion.
“They have to fall back and go beyond the contact lines, and they should withdraw the troops,” Zelensky said. “In that situation, we’ll be able to start discussing things normally. But for them to withdraw, they have to say something and we have to start talking.
The most important takeaway from this is that President Zelensky feels that he will prevail. While Russia has backed off the demands for disbanding the Ukrainian armed forces and changing the regime in Kiev in favor of a land grab along the Black Sea, Zelensky’s terms have hardened.
For the war to end, Russia must withdraw. The one thing Zelensky has been consistent about demanding is that any cease-fire must be accompanied by a total withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukraine.
Ukraine will not let any of the Russian-created Bantustans for Russian speakers to survive. The fake republics in Donetsk and Luhansk will be returned to governance from Kiev instead of Moscow. This will be a bitter pill for Putin to swallow, but it is getting safer to say that he no longer has the initiative in the war he started, and he doesn’t have the power to impose his will. Western aid, military and economic, will keep Ukraine in the fight longer than Russia can sustain its “special military operation.”
Crimea’s future as Russian territory is less than certain. The best that Russia can hope for out of this is to continue what Kiev views as an illegal occupation and create casus belli for a new war somewhere in the future, a war that Russia will not like.
Ukraine will exit this war as a virtual member of NATO and the EU. Its weaponry, equipment, and training will be standardized with NATO. Its commercial contacts will all be focused on Western Europe, not Russia.
Ukraine will not let the war crimes committed with the knowledge and acquiescence of Putin’s general pass. There will be indictments, and I predict that Russians who participated in these crimes, either directly or under the Yamashita Rule, will be brought to justice in Kiev, not The Hague.
No one knows how this war turns out, but a couple of things are very obvious. Right now, neither side is in the mood to talk about a cease-fire; the only people calling for a ceasefire are the Putin-bots watching the Russians get their clock cleaned and trying to preserve their man-god’s aura of invincibility. The second thing is that Putin’s splendid little adventure in Ukraine will prove a costly miscalculation. Russia’s prestige is taking a pounding; its role as self-appointed protector of Russians abroad is a joke punchline, it will be a generation before its economy or armed forces return to the status quo ante of February 24, and absolutely no one, anywhere, is any longer afraid of the Russian armed forces.
Transcript as provided by the Office of the President.
Today was a busy day, which began and ended with awarding our heroes, our defenders.
On the occasion of Infantry Day – a professional holiday of Ukrainian warriors who are the foundation of the army, I met with our servicemen in the morning. Thanked them for their service. Presented awards. Including our new – combat – award.
You know that since independence there have been no combat awards in our country. And today I had the honor to finally present such an award. The Cross of Military Merit. And the first person to whom I decided to present this Cross was General Valerii Zaluzhny, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. For courage, for wisdom, for organizing an effective rebuff to the Russian invasion. I am sure the Russian army will remember such a rebuff for a long time.
Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Yevhen Moysiuk, combat medic of the 72nd separate mechanized brigade, Sergeant Dariya Mazurenko, Commander of the 14th separate mechanized brigade, Colonel Oleksandr Okhrimenko, Deputy Commander of the mechanized battalion of the 72nd separate mechanized brigade, Captain Vladyslav Kaliyevsky received the same award.
Combat awards are a fair new tradition for the state, which defends its independence on the battlefield.
A special award “For Courage and Bravery” was also established for combat units that showed extraordinary courage and effectiveness in the battles for Ukraine. It was received by 7 brigades.
I also presented the Orders of the Golden Star to our defenders who were awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine. And also to the relatives of those of our heroes who were posthumously awarded this title.
We continue the evacuation mission from Mariupol, from Azovstal, with the mediation of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. During the day, our team organized rescue for more than 40 civilians – women and children. We hope that soon they will be able to arrive in a safe area after two months of shelling, just underground – in shelters.
We are also working on diplomatic options to save our military who still remain at Azovstal. Influential mediators are involved. Influential states.
Russian troops continued the shelling of our territory, including missile and air strikes. I ask all our citizens – especially these days – not to ignore the air raid sirens. Please, this is your life, the life of your children. Also, strictly follow the public order and curfew regulations in cities and communities.
Be sure to comply with the ban on visiting forests in the territories that were occupied. A great threat of mines and tripwire mines left after the Russian military remains there.
I met in Kyiv with the foreign ministers of the three Baltic states. They consistently support our struggle against the Russian invasion. Support from the first day. I am very grateful. And today, as always, we talked thoroughly and for the benefit of Ukraine. We are coordinating our steps to increase pressure on Russia.
And this is especially important now – when the European Union is preparing a new, already sixth, sanctions package on Russia.
I also took part in a discussion at the very influential British expert platform Chatham House. It is one of the most important international platforms for political work and lobbying – in the good sense of the word – useful government decisions. I have outlined our initiative to update the global security architecture. So that the tools for a really quick reaction to any external aggression finally appear in the world.
Addressed the Parliament of Iceland. Thanked the Government and the people of Iceland for supporting the sanctions that are needed to deter Russia. I also called on Icelandic politicians, diplomats and ordinary citizens to help defend our freedom. Urged them to be advocates of freedom. Advocates of Ukraine. Because we have a common freedom with them. Just as with all other nations of the free world.
This is the extraordinary strength of the Ukrainian position. We defend ourselves against the onslaught of tyranny craving to destroy everything that freedom gives to people and states. And such a struggle – for freedom and against tyranny – is quite comprehensible for any society, in any corner of our planet.
In the evening I signed decrees on awarding our heroes. Our brave defenders thanks to whom Ukraine has survived and is holding on despite everything that Russia is trying to do to break us.
Therefore, 203 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were awarded. And 16 servicemen of the Main Intelligence Directorate.
Once again, I congratulate all warriors in infantry units on their professional holiday.
Glory to all our defenders!
Eternal memory to everyone who gave their lives for Ukraine!
Glory to Ukraine!