AP Interview: Ukraine’s FM targets February peace summit

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s foreign minister said Monday his nation wants a summit to end the war but does not expect Russia to participate, a statement that makes it difficult to see the devastating invasion ending anytime soon.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told The Associated Press his government wants a “peace” summit within two months at the United Nations with Secretary General António Guterres as mediator.

The UN gave a very cautious response.

“As the secretary-general has said many times in the past, he can only mediate if all parties want him to mediate,” UN deputy spokeswoman Florencia Soto Nino-Martinez said Monday.

Kuleba said Russia must face a war crimes tribunal before his country speaks directly to Moscow. He said, however, that other nations should feel free to compromise with the Russians, as happened before a grain deal between Turkey and Russia.

The AP interview offered a glimpse into Ukraine’s vision of how the war with Russia could one day end, though any peace talks would take months and depend heavily on complex international negotiations.

Kuleba also said he was “absolutely satisfied” with the results of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s six-month visit to the US. Training usually takes up to a year.

Kuleba said during the interview at the Foreign Ministry that Ukraine will do everything possible to win the war in 2023.

“Every war ends diplomatically,” he said. “Every war ends as a result of actions taken on the battlefield and at the bargaining table.”

Commenting on Kuleba’s proposal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that Russia “never followed the conditions set by others. Just our own common sense.”

A Kremlin spokesman said last week that no Ukrainian peace plan can succeed without taking into account “today’s realities that cannot be ignored,” a reference to Moscow’s demand that Ukraine recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed in 2014. , as well as other territorial gains.

Kuleba said that the Ukrainian government would like to have the “peace” summit at the end of February.

“The Organization of the United Nations may be the best scenario to carry out this summit, because it is not about doing a favor to a particular country,” he said. “It’s really about bringing everyone on board.”

At the Group of 20 summit in Bali in November, Zelenskyy made a long-distance presentation of a 10-point peace formula that includes restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity, withdrawing Russian troops, releasing all prisoners, a court for those responsible for the aggression and security guarantees for Ukraine.

Asked if Ukraine would invite Russia to the summit, he said Moscow would first have to face a war crimes trial in an international court.

“They can only be invited to this step in this way,” Kuleba said.

On the role of the UN Secretary General, Kuleba said: “He has proven to be an efficient mediator and an efficient negotiator, and most importantly, a man of principle and integrity. So we would appreciate the active participation of him ”.

The UN spokesman’s office had no immediate comment.

Other world leaders have also offered to mediate, such as those of Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The foreign minister once again played down comments by the Russian authorities that they are ready for talks.

“They (the Russians) regularly say that they are ready for negotiations, which is not true, because everything they do on the battlefield proves otherwise,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said a few days ago that his country is ready for talks to end the war in Ukraine, but suggested that the Ukrainians are the ones who refuse to take such a step. Despite Putin’s comments, Moscow forces have continued to attack Ukraine, a sign that peace is not imminent.

Zelenskyy’s visit to the US was his first trip abroad since the war began on February 24. Kuleba praised Washington’s efforts and stressed the importance of the visit.

Ukraine secured a new $1.8 billion military aid package, including a battery of Patriot missiles, during the trip.

Kuleba said the move “opens the door for other countries to do the same.”

He said the US government developed a program for Ukrainian troops to complete training faster than usual “without harming the quality of the use of this weapon on the battlefield.”

While Kuleba did not mention a specific time period, he only said that it will be “much less than six months.” And he added that the training will take place “outside” Ukraine.

During Russia’s ground and air war in Ukraine, Kuleba has been second only to Zelenskyy in bringing Ukraine’s message and needs to an international audience, whether through Twitter posts or meetings with friendly foreign officials.

On Monday, Ukraine called on UN member states to deprive Russia of its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and to exclude it from the world body. Kuleba said that they have “long been preparing for this step to expose the fraud and deprive Russia of its status.”

The Foreign Ministry says that Russia never went through the legal procedure to acquire membership and take the USSR’s place in the UN Security Council after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“This is the beginning of an uphill battle, but we will fight, because nothing is impossible,” he told the AP.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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