Zelensky Declares No Peace Talks with Putin Until Russia Leaves Crimea and Donbas, 1991 Borders Restored

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SERGEI CHUZAVKOV/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared that he will not participate in any peace negotiations with Vladimir Putin until Russian forces have left the occupied Donbas region and the Crimean Peninsula.

Casting doubt on the prospect of bringing the conflict in Ukraine to an end in the foreseeable future, President Zelensky stated that his country will not entertain a diplomatic solution until Ukraine’s 1991 borders are re-established, meaning that Russia would have to retreat from its heavily entrenched positions in the Donbas and Crimea.

In a joint press conference with Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez in Kyiv on Saturday, Zelensky said per state media Ukrinform: “Ukraine will be ready for one or another format of diplomacy when we are really on our borders, on our real borders in accordance with international law.”

Refusing to revert back to the state of play before last year’s full-scale invasion, Zelensky added: “The borders of February 24, 2022, are not our borders. That was the contact line between us and the occupiers.”

The Ukrainian president has previously argued that peace negotiations are used by the Kremlin to bide time and build up strength, so his government will not consider talks until Russian forces vacate Ukrainian lands, of which he considers Crimea, the breakaway Donbas regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzia.

The comments from the Ukrainian leader come amid a critical time in the war for his country, which launched its long-awaited counter-offensive against the Russians last month.

According to British military intelligence, Ukraine has made some progress, reportedly retaking land around Krasnohorivka near Donetsk city which has been under Russian or pro-Kremilin control for the first time since the start of fighting in 2014.

Although some gains have been made, Western observers have increasingly expressed concern about the lack of progress in the fighting. Even Zelensky, himself, has admitted that the counteroffensive is going “slower than desired”.

This week, Ukraine’s top general, Valery Zaluzhny, blamed the slower-than-expected pace on a lack of military aid from NATO countries, which have donated tens of billions to the war-torn country.

The Ukrainian military commander-in-chief, redouble his government’s call for F-16 fighter jets, claiming that his current fleet is no match for the Russian air force.

Meanwhile, Spain’s socialist Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, signed a declaration with Zelensky on Saturday, pledging his government’s support to see Ukraine join the European Union and eventually the American-led NATO military alliance.

“Spain supports strengthening NATO’s partnership with Ukraine, including through the creation of a NATO-Ukraine Council as a venue to further increase and expand the ongoing cooperation to help fulfil Ukraine’s path towards the Euro-Atlantic family consistent with the Bucharest Declaration.

“Spain reiterates its support to NATO’s Open Door Policy in accordance with the 2022 NATO Strategic Concept as well as the Madrid NATO Summit Declaration,” the declaration stated.

KYIV, UKRAINE - JULY 1: Spanish President Pedro Sanchez (R) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) arrive to a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on July 1, 2023. Sanchez promises in Kyiv to support Ukraine ''for as long as it takes'' and assures that ''it will win the war''. (Photo by Jose Colon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

KYIV, UKRAINE – JULY 1: Spanish President Pedro Sanchez (R) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) arrive to a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on July 1, 2023. Sanchez promises in Kyiv to support Ukraine ”for as long as it takes” and assures that ”it will win the war”. (Photo by Jose Colon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Spain, which took the reins of the presidency of the Council of the EU on Saturday and will control the institution until the end of the year, will also be sending Ukriane more military aid, including four Leopard tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and a mobile field hospital, Sánchez said.

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