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Ukraine may have talks eventually with Russia, intelligence officer says


Ukraine will at some point have to enter into talks with Russia to bring an end to their more than two-year-old war, a senior Ukrainian intelligence official said in an interview published on Thursday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has repeatedly ruled out talks with the Kremlin, and a decree he issued after Russia formally annexed four Ukrainian regions in 2022 deems negotiations “impossible”.

A Ukrainian serviceman walks near destroyed building, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the frontline town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on 5th March, 2024. PICTURE: Reuters/Oleksandr Ratushniak/File photo

But Major-General Vadym Skibitsky, deputy chief of Ukraine’s HUR military intelligence directorate, told the Economist magazine that talks would eventually be needed, as would be the case with any war.

“General Skibitsky says he does not see a way for Ukraine to win the war on the battlefield alone. Even if it were able to push Russian forces back to the borders – an increasingly distant prospect – it wouldn’t end the war,” the magazine wrote.

“Such wars can only end with treaties, he says. Right now, both sides are jockeying for the ‘the most favourable position’ ahead of potential talks. But meaningful negotiations can begin only in the second half of 2025 at the earliest, he guesses.”

Zelenskiy and other officials have said Russia is not invited to a “peace summit” planned for Switzerland in June as there is no assurance that Moscow will bargain in good faith.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba appeared to echo Skibitsky’s thoughts in a separate interview this week with Foreign Policy magazine, saying the goal of the June summit was “to unite countries who share principles and approaches that they will build further actions on.

“After that, communication with Russia may take place and Russia can be part of the talks. Because you are right: In the end, you cannot put the war to an end without both parties.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials say Ukraine is blocking any attempt at a settlement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday said the June gathering could not be a “serious conference with serious expectations of some kind of results” without Russia’s presence.

Zelenskiy in his nightly video address on Thursday, described the June meeting as “practically the first real chance to start restoring a just peace”.

“All our positions, on the battlefield, in diplomacy and in the information sphere, must be equally strong now,” he said. “Our strength, our capabilities, our weapons, unity with partners — all this must work together. And it will work.”


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