At last, there might be a silver lining in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, announces he is ready to negotiate.
On November 8, Zelenskyy suggested the possibility of peace talks with Russia after a long period of rejecting it. However, the President highlighted that negotiations must be "genuine" and can only occur if Russia adheres to Kiyv's conditions. The main requirement for resolving the conflict is Russia's immediate return of all invaded territories, including those that have already been annexed. These are Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk, and Crimea. Aside from that, all war criminals need to be justly punished and compensations made for war losses.
The Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, tweeted that the guarantee for Ukraine's territorial integrity is to be "modern air defense, aircraft, tanks, and long-range missiles" which "must be destroyed before launch in the air, on land, and at sea." Another vital factor in starting the negotiations is Russia's troops' complete retreat from Ukraine.
The authorities assert that only then can the peace talks be in question. Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukraine's presidential advisor, confirmed this on his Twitter account on November 7. He also claimed that Ukraine "has never refused to negotiate" and that according to their judgment, Putin's inaptitude to accept Ukraine's terms only proves talks will be able to start with a new president only.
This is a big step for Ukraine, as Zelenskyy has previously denounced any chance of peaceful negotiations with Russia as long as Vladimir Putin stays in power. This was his response to the annexation of four regions of Ukraine in September 2022. Moreover, Zelenskyy signed a decree confirming these statements in October. Ukrainian government pointed out that negotiations with Putin are "impossible," although that is not the case for Russia as a country itself.
This comes as a surprising response to Putin's recent speech about being "ready to wait for Kiyv's consent" to start peace talks. It is hard to assess whether this statement can be considered a public declaration of Russia's eagerness to negotiate or another tool in the never-ending information war.
The Washington Post has earlier declared that the Biden administration has been privately encouraging Ukrainian authorities to stay open to peace talks and publicly announce it. Zelenskyy has also been urged to revoke his refusal to discuss war matters unless Putin is removed from power. The source highlights that the reason for such statements isn't to push Ukraine to surrender but rather to help it maintain the support of Western countries throughout the ongoing war. However, on November 8, Mykhailo Podolyak refuted The Washington Posts' allegations of the US' encouragement to negotiate in an interview with Radio Svoboda. He also pointed out that since Ukrainian troops are winning at the moment, there is no point in talking with Putin, and any discussions would be nonsensical.
Although both sides are making claims about being open to negotiations, any concessions seem highly unlikely at present. The world can only speculate whether the conflict will continue for months or years before peace talks become a real option.
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