Ukraine war: Foreign minister says Kyiv wants peace summit “by the end of February”

Ukraine’s foreign minister said his nation wants a UN-backed peace summit to end the war in early 2023, but only if Russia has been tried before a war crimes tribunal.

Dmytro Kuleba made the comments in a new interview, telling journalists that the peace summit should be held at the United Nations with the Secretary-General by the end of February Antonio Guterres as an intermediary.

But Kuleba does not anticipate Russian participation, making it difficult to foresee an end to the devastating invasion anytime soon.

“Every war ends diplomatically,” said the foreign minister, “every war ends as a result of actions on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.”

The Associated Press interview offered a glimpse into Ukraine’s vision of how the war with Russia could one day end, even though any peace talks would be months away and highly dependent on complex international negotiations.

Kuleba said Russia must face a war crimes tribunal before his country speaks directly to Moscow. However, he said other nations should feel free to work with Russians, as was done before a grain deal between Turkey and Russia.

The top Ukrainian diplomat said in an interview at the Foreign Ministry that Ukraine would do everything it could to win the 2023 war – and that he was “absolutely satisfied” with President Volodymyr’s results Zelenskyy’s visit to the USA before Christmas and revealed that the US government had made a special plan to have the Patriot missile battery operational in the country in less than six months. The training usually lasts up to a year.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week that no Ukrainian peace plan could succeed without “considering today’s realities that cannot be ignored” – a reference to Moscow’s demand that Ukraine cede Russia’s sovereignty over the annexed peninsula of Crimea recognize in 2014 as well as other territory gains.

Kuleba said the Ukrainian government wants the “peace” summit to be held by the end of February.

“The United Nations might be the best place for this summit because this isn’t about doing any particular country any favors,” he said. “It’s really about getting everyone on board.”

At the G20 summit in Bali in November Zelenskyy made the remote presentation a 10-point peace formula that includes restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity, withdrawing Russian troops, releasing all prisoners, a tribunal for those responsible for the aggression, and security guarantees for Ukraine.

When asked if they would invite Russia to the summit, he said Moscow must first answer war crimes charges in an international court.

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

Speaking of the role of UN Secretary-General, Kuleba said: “He has proven to be an efficient mediator and negotiator and, most importantly, a man of principle and integrity. Therefore, we would welcome his active participation.”

The UN spokesman’s office initially had no comment.

Other world leaders have also offered to mediate, including in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The foreign minister again played down comments from Russian authorities that they were ready for talks.

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed a few days ago that his country is ready for talks to end the war in Ukraine, but indicated that Ukrainians are the ones who are refusing to take the step. Despite Putin’s comments, Moscow’s forces continue to attack Ukraine – a sign that peace is not imminent.

Zelenskyy’s visit to the United States was his first trip abroad since the war began on February 24. Kuleba commended Washington’s efforts and underscored the importance of the visit.

“This shows how important both the United States is to Ukraine and the importance of Ukraine to the United States,” said Kuleba, who was part of the delegation in Washington.

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

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

During Russia’s ground and air war in Ukraine, Kuleba was second only to Zelenskyy in getting Ukraine’s message and needs across to an international audience, whether through Twitter posts or meetings with fellow foreign officials.

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