Ukraine aims for peace summit by end of February, says foreign minister

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s foreign minister said Monday that his government intends to have a peace summit by the end of February, preferably at the United Nations with Secretary General António Guterres as a possible mediator, around the anniversary of the russian war.

But Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told The Associated Press that Russia could only be invited to such a summit if the country first faces a war crimes tribunal.

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.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, December 26, 2022.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba during an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday.Efrem Lukatski / AP

Kuleba said during the interview at the Foreign Ministry that Ukraine will do everything possible to win the war in 2023, adding that diplomacy always plays an important role.

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

Kuleba said that the Ukrainian government would like to have a peace summit by 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.”

On December 12, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine planned to start a summit to implement Ukraine’s peace formula in 2023.

At the Group of 20 summit in Bali in November, Zelenskyy presented a 10-point peace formula that includes the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, the release of all prisoners, a court for Those responsible for the aggression and security guarantees for Ukraine.

Asked if Russia would be invited 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 Guterres, 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 foreign minister once again played down comments by the Russian authorities that they are ready for talks.

“They regularly say that they are ready to negotiate, which is not true, because everything they do on the battlefield proves otherwise,” he said.

In comments posted on Russian state television on Sunday, Putin said his country is ready for talks to end the war in Ukraine, but suggested that Ukrainians are the ones refusing 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.

“This shows how the United States is important to Ukraine, but also how Ukraine is important to the United States,” said Kuleba, who was part of the delegation to the United States.

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 the missile battery to complete training faster than usual “without compromising the quality of 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.

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