Volodymyr Zelenskyy vows to keep fighting over winter after recapture of Kherson

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has outlined his terms for a peace settlement to end the war with Russia, rejecting some Western suggestions that Kiev should compromise with Moscow over its borders.

While Zelensky said on Tuesday that he was open to peace talks, he stressed that he would not stop fighting during the winter. His comments follow suggestions by some US officials, including military chief Gen. Mark Millay, that winter may provide an opportunity for talks with Russia and that Ukraine may never be able to expel Russian forces from all of its territory.

“We will not allow Russia to wait for this, build up its forces and then start a new series of terror and global destabilization,” Zelensky said in a video address at the G20 summit in Bali. “I am convinced that now is the time when Russia’s war of destruction has and can be stopped,” he added, blasting Moscow as he addressed the G19 leaders.

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Some Western diplomats have privately discussed that talks could begin based on the front line that existed before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and fueled the war in the eastern Donbass region using it for local proxies.

The suggestions came as Ukrainian forces recaptured Kherson last week, dealing a major blow to the Russian army, which had occupied the southern provincial capital since March. On Monday, Zelensky visited the city. Ukraine has recovered more than half of the territory seized by Russian forces since February 24.

“It’s like, for example, D-Day – the Allied landings in Normandy,” Zelensky said as he greeted the people of Kherson and oversaw the return of the Ukrainian flag over the city.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Zelensky’s plan was confirmation that Kiev “doesn’t want to negotiate,” state news agency Ria Novosti reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the G20 meeting and was represented by his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.

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Repeating his earlier request for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops, Zelensky called for the release of all prisoners of war and Ukrainians forcibly deported by Moscow.

He added that energy security will be central to Ukraine’s success and lasting peace. Since early October, Russian missile and drone strikes have destroyed approximately 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

“Every week Russia blows up our power plants, transformers and power lines,” Zelensky said.

Ukrainian officials have stressed in recent days that they plan to fight on, despite mixed messages from the West about whether it is time to seriously consider talks with Russia.

In a call on Monday, Ukraine’s military chief, General Valery Zaluzhny, told his US counterpart Milley that “we will fight as long as we have the strength.” He said that Ukraine will continue to implement the government’s goal of liberating all Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces. “We will not stop on this path under any circumstances. The Ukrainian military will not accept any negotiations, agreements or compromises,” Zaluzhny told Milley.

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After Millay’s remarks, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that “as long as Russia takes the position that it can just take as much territory as it wants by force, it’s hard to see them as a bona fide negotiating partner.” .

US President Joe Biden and other senior American officials have recently stressed that they will continue to deliver lethal military aid to Ukraine, with another package expected in the coming weeks.

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