Despite the bad will of his Russian enemy, the Ukrainian president continues to maintain diplomatic contact. Objective, to prevent a definitive breakdown of the negotiations from occurring.
The Ukrainian president continues to believe in negotiations to end the war. Or at least he says so. In an interview broadcast on Tuesday morning, Volodymyr Zelensky once again said he was ready to discuss with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, if he agreed to negotiate directly with him. A month after the brutal invasion of his country by Moscow, the Head of State for the first time said he was open to “try to address everything that upsets and displeases Russia”, including Crimea and Donbass. According to him, Ukraine would prefer to be “destroyed” rather than surrender.
“The issue of Crimea and Donbass is a very difficult story for everyone.” It’s necessary “security guarantees” and the end of hostilities, then, “once this blockage is lifted, let’s talk”said the Ukrainian president before adding that the people should, by referendum, “decide on certain forms of compromise” concluded with Russia. And to invite Pope Francis to play the role of mediator in the negotiations between kyiv and Moscow.
In response, on Tuesday morning the Kremlin said the ongoing talks with kyiv were not enough. “substantial”. “A certain process of negotiations is taking place, but we would like it to be more energetic”indicated Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman of the Russian presidency, also regretting “slowness” negotiations. Several rounds of talks have been held in recent weeks without leading to concrete measures.
On the verge of breaking
Several Western countries, including France, have accused Moscow of conducting these discussions with a certain bad faith, even with “cynicism”. Washington even suspects Vladimir Putin of wanting to play escalation. Joe Biden thus accused his Russian counterpart of being “back against the wall” and therefore on the verge of using chemical and biological weapons. Moscow suggested that Ukraine had some, which is “a clear sign that he plans to use these two types of weapons”, estimated the American president, Joe Biden, for whom Vladimir Putin is already “a war criminal”. For Moscow, these statements “unworthy” led Russian-American relations “on the verge of breaking”.
An anger that hides the difficulties encountered by the Russian army on the ground, where, according to several experts, it now tends to take up defensive positions, especially north of kyiv, but also around Kharkiv. This strategy is accompanied by intense bombardments. On Tuesday morning, several heavy explosions were heard in the capital under curfew. An American think-tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), has also warned that the Russians “preparing to deploy further” artillery around kyiv, which they still haven’t succeeded in encircling, “repelled by fierce Ukrainian resistance”. Paris believes that, to reinforce its forces, Russia could draw Belarus into the conflict.
For its part, the Ukrainian army assured on Facebook that the Russian army has “strengthened its presence in the airspace of Ukraine” as well as its missile fire. From French sources, we confirm the firing of five or six Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, claimed this weekend by Moscow, at “for the purposes of a show of force”.
It is also a way to limit losses and circumvent logistical difficulties. US intelligence, according to the New York Times, argues that more than 7,000 Russians have been killed since the start of the war. Ukrainian military sources assure that the Russian troops have only three days of ammunition, food and fuel. Nearly 300 Russian soldiers would have defected near Okhtyrka, again according to the Ukrainian general staff in the Sumy region. This city in the northeast of the country, a lock on the road to kyiv has been the center of intense fighting for two weeks.
This coming famine
The invading forces are also focusing their efforts on Mariupol. The situation in this besieged port appears increasingly desperate as Moscow remains deaf to kyiv’s demands for the evacuation of some 200,000 civilians still trapped. Departures are only made in dribs and drabs. A convoy of 15 buses, with 1,114 people on board, mostly women and children, was due to leave the city on Tuesday. In a statement, a local elected official believes “that the city’s infrastructure has been 80% destroyed.” In Kherson, a city in southern Ukraine now under Russian occupation, daily life is also becoming more difficult. The approximately 300,000 inhabitants, who demonstrate against the occupier, lack food and medicine.
On Tuesday, speaking by videoconference to Italian parliamentarians, Volodymyr Zelensky warned Italy on Tuesday against an influx of migrants threatened by hunger due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Ukraine has always been one of the largest and most important food exporters. We do not know when we will have the harvest and if we will be able to export. And let’s not forget the famine that is approaching from various countries., he said. The countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, in particular Egypt and Algeria, are in fact among the main buyers of Ukrainian wheat.