Zelenskyi rules out peace talks until Russia leaves all occupied territories

Zelenskyi rules out peace talks until Russia leaves all occupied territories

Zelenskyi rules out peace talks until Russia leaves all occupied

Ukraine assures that it will not start peace talks with Russia as long as Russian soldiers are on its territory. This includes not only the regions Moscow’s forces have seized since their February 24 invasion, but also those they have controlled since 2014, such as the Crimean Peninsula and most of the eastern provinces of Donbass. This was stated by Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski on Thursday in front of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “Future negotiations can only take place if Russia gives up all Ukrainian territory,” said Zelenskyy.

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The summit, held in Lviv, a Ukrainian city near the border with Poland, served Erdogan and Guterres to show Zelenskyy their determination to end the war at the negotiating table. Both are the main proponents of the diplomatic route to ending the war. “The main point of the dialogue with the UN Secretary-General is how to reach the end of the war,” Erdogan said. “We have to find the shortest and quickest way to get to the negotiating table,” added the Turkish leader. Zelenskyy had recently declared at a joint press conference: “We have no confidence that Russia will fulfill its obligations.”

The three leaders have shown harmony in defending Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The Ukrainian side has upped the ante in recent weeks about its willingness to militarily expel Russian troops, including from the areas cut off in the 2014 war, both from the pro-Russian separatist areas of Donbass and from the Crimean peninsula, which was destroyed in the same year were annexed by Russia a referendum not recognized by the international community.

Another point they agreed on is the need for Russia to demilitarize the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe and where gunfights between the two armies are taking place. “We don’t want another Chernobyl,” Erdogan said, recalling the 1986 nuclear disaster that occurred on Ukrainian soil during the Soviet Union. Guterres expressed “enormous concern” that Russia has deployed troops, artillery and military vehicles inside the plant: “The area must be demilitarized, any other option would be suicidal.” The UN Secretary-General has supported the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) proposal to send a monitoring mission to Zaporizhia, although he stressed that it must come under the jurisdiction of Kyiv.

The Ukrainian President, with a more tense face than Erdogan and Guterres, even corrected the interpreter who translated his words into English for omitting part of his statement reminding that Ukrainian civilians are dying under Russian bombs every day . The summit took place at the Potocki Palace, the residence of Count Alfred Josef Potocki, a Polish nobleman and former prime minister of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From the entrance courtyard to the palace, the boxes of humanitarian aid could be seen, piling up in adjacent art pavilions. On the street, a group of citizens called on Russia to release the Ukrainian prisoners of war who resisted until the last moment the siege of Mariupol, a city now under Kremlin control.

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Erdogan has pledged his support to Zelenskyy in returning prisoners of war to Ukraine. He also stressed that he will forward the conclusions of the meeting to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Erdogan met with Putin on August 5. According to Russian and Turkish media reports, Putin advocated meeting Zelenskyy, despite the Russian side’s unwillingness to back away from the 20% of Ukraine it has militarily occupied.

It is Erdogan’s first visit to Ukraine since the outbreak of war. “We are committed to diplomacy and at the same time stand by our Ukrainian friends,” said the Turkish leader. He has insisted that the model to be followed is the deal signed in Istanbul at the end of July between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN for the Russian fleet to allow Ukrainian grain to be exported through the Black Sea. “The food export agreement shows the success of diplomacy. This is just the beginning,” Guterres added. But the initiatives [diplomáticas] in a war situation, they are bound to be fragile,” warned the UN Secretary-General.

hot phase of the conflict

Russia and Ukraine, including in Turkey, tried last March to bring closer positions on a hypothetical cessation of hostilities, although negotiations failed. The current situation of maximum military tension makes a rapprochement of the positions impossible, as Oksana Mishlovska, researcher at the University of Bern, explained in an interview with EL PAÍS last July: “In the current phase of the conflict, the polls show that a large part of the Russians and Ukrainians believe in victory on their side, a situation understood in the scholarly literature as part of the hot phase of the conflict. Mishlovska added that the huge drop in Ukraine’s GDP and the continuation of the conflict means increasing dependence on its western allies and NATO, including Turkey.

Erdogan landed in Poland on Thursday morning – Ukrainian airspace is closed due to the threat of planes being shot down by Russia – and was due to return to Turkey the same day. Guterres, on the other hand, will continue his second war trip to Ukraine with a visit to the port of Odessa, from where most of the 21 ships carrying Ukrainian grain departed in a month. A day after the export agreement was signed, the Russian fleet attacked the port of Odessa, violating the pact signed in Istanbul.

The summit was organized in record time: its celebration was announced just 24 hours before it was due to start. This led to organizational chaos, especially during the joint press appearance, in which simultaneous translation and environmental conditions failed, with very intense heat and a lack of protective measures against possible infection by the corona virus. The organization has also not allowed mobile phones and computers to access the meeting building without giving a reason.

Guterres has also announced that he has already formed the UN team to investigate the authorship of the bombing that killed more than 40 Ukrainian prisoners at a prison in Olenivka, a Russian-ruled municipality in Donetsk province, last July. died. The two armies accuse each other of being behind the attack. Guterres has assured that he has discussed the issue with both parties. The fact-finding mission is ready, according to the Portuguese politician, and it only remains to “guarantee its safe access so that it can gather all the necessary information without interference”. The mission commander would be Brazilian General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz.

Lviv’s proximity to the Polish border – an hour and a half by road – was convenient for the Turkish leader’s hurricane visit. Zelensky, on the other hand, justified the appointment in Lemberg with the fact that Hersch Lauterparcht and Raphael Lemkin, the two scientists who developed the legal concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity, were trained in this city. Zelenskyy again called for an international court to judge possible Russian war crimes. Erdogan listened unmoved to Zelenskyi’s explanations, despite the Turkish leader’s refusal to recognize the massacres and deportations of Armenians from the Turkish Empire in the early 20th century as genocide. This genocide was crucial for the studies of Lemkin and Lauterpacht.

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