According to the Financial Times, a Zelensky advisor has said that Ukraine is “ready to give up” Crimea.
There has been much talk and reporting of the coming Spring counteroffensive by Ukraine forces, but with the fight for Bakhmut not going so well for Kiev, there’s also been talk of the need for compromise, at a moment Ukrainian casualties in the east are believed to be high.
Last week we reported on President Volodymyr Zelensky’s voicing rare doubts concerning Bakhmut – as if preparing his people for news of a devastating defeat. And now, on Wednesday, the Financial Times is reporting the single most important development to come out of the conflict in a long time: Zelensky’s office says he’s ready to compromise on the future of the Crimean peninsula.
Naturally, the Ukrainians present themselves as speaking from a position of having the upper hand, which is the general tone of the remarks that Andriy Sybiha, who is deputy head of Zelensky’s office, gave to FT. Per the publication, “Kyiv is willing to discuss the future of Crimea with Moscow if its forces reach the border of the Russian-occupied peninsula” – which marks the “most explicit statement of Ukraine’s interest in negotiations since it cut off peace talks with the Kremlin last April.”
“If we will succeed in achieving our strategic goals on the battlefield and when we will be on the administrative border with Crimea, we are ready to open [a] diplomatic page to discuss this issue,” Sybiha said, previewing his high hopes for an imminent counteroffensive.
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He explained however that “It doesn’t mean that we exclude the way of liberation [of Crimea] by our army.” But given that Ukrainian forces are nearly completely surrounded in the strategic city of Bakhmut in Donetsk region, despite pouring in massive amounts of manpower and equipment, the whole notion of “liberation of Crimea” is a pipe dream.
Czech President Petr Pavel said in an interview that small European countries are “morally and financially exhausted” by the Ukraine war effort.
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