Ukraine’s president in fresh Wednesday remarks asserted that his country will hold no talks or negotiations with Russia until its forces pull back to their pre-war positions. It's but the latest clear signal that there likely won't be any negotiated settlement on the horizon, also as US defense officials have recently been predicting a protracted, possibly even "years-long" conflict.
President Volodymyr Zelensky laid out Ukraine's position in a virtual address before this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It came after an initial speech before the forum at the start of this week, according to the AP. He put the ball in Moscow's court, saying it must "shift from the bloody war to diplomacy" if it hopes for the war to end. "It’s possible if Russia shows at least something. When I say at least something, I mean pulling back troops to where they were before Feb. 24," which marked the start of the invasion. He added: "I believe it would be a correct step for Russia to make."
He also said at a moment Russia is making steady gains in Donbas, reportedly now poised to take all of Luhansk province, that Ukrainian forces would fight to liberate all occupied territory.
"Ukraine will fight until it reclaims all its territories," he stressed. "It’s about our independence and our sovereignty." This as there have been calls from a handful of European leaders to make some territorial concessions for the sake of ending the war based on a negotiated settlement. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who has been present in Davos, admitted that the situation in eastern Donbas region remains "extremely bad".
Zelensky had said the day prior, on Tuesday, that negotiating recognition of Russia's possession of Crimea is not on the table. "Russia will also have to leave Crimea," he had said during a daily briefing according to the Kyiv Independent. Speaking of Kherson, Melitopol, Enerhodar, Mariupol, he said the Russians must exit these and "all other cities and communities where they are still pretending to be the owners."
???? The former US secretary of state told a gathering in Davos that it would be fatal for the West to get swept up in the mood of the moment and forget the proper place of Russia in the European balance of power pic.twitter.com/JRL4VLY5fq
— Telegraph World News (@TelegraphWorld) May 24, 2022
Crucially, all of this comes on the heels of veteran US statesman Henry Kissinger's own controversial Davos remarks advising that Ukraine must be willing to cede territory or risk a broader Russia-NATO war that spreads beyond Ukraine's borders. He said:
“Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome.
Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante.
Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself,” he said.
But now it's been made clear that Zelensky has slammed the door on such a pragmatic approach, telling the same Davos audience that his government and armed forces won't compromise, but will keep fighting until it has all sovereign territory back.
When the war in Ukraine will end? It will depend on several things, ???????? president Zelensky said in Davos:
1) willingness of the West to support Ukraine militarily and financially;
2) lack of fear in the West to confront Russia in this hybrid war;
3) the desire of Russia.
— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) May 25, 2022
Kissinger's Tuesday comments went viral and drove world headlines, with some Western pundits even suggesting, absurdly, that America's most famous diplomat has been "compromised" by Putin and Russia.