An advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a recent interview that Ukraine might be prepared to negotiate with Russia once Ukrainian forces launch the spring counteroffensive and reach the border of Russian-controlled Crimea.
In an interview published in the Financial Times last Thursday, Andriy Sybiha, the deputy head of President Zelensky’s office, said if Ukraine achieves its “strategic goals on the battlefield” and reaches the “administrative border with Crimea,” Kyiv would be ready to open a diplomatic dialogue with Russia “to discuss this issue.”
However, Sybiha clarified that this wouldn’t mean excluding the liberation of Crimea by Ukrainian forces.
Russia has occupied the Crimean peninsula since 2014.
While Sybiha’s comments are a direct indication that Kyiv may be willing to return to negotiations after it cut off talks a year ago, another advisor to President Zelensky quickly contradicted Sybiha’s remarks, the New York Post reported.
In a tweet last Thursday, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak clarified that “real negotiations” with Russia must be based on “the complete withdrawal” of Russian forces from the 1991 “internationally recognized borders of Ukraine” which includes Crimea. Podolyak emphasized there would be no “territorial concessions or bargaining of our sovereign rights.”
According to the Ukrainian news outlet Liga Net, a spokesperson for President Zelensky said the only person who can speak with authorities about possible negotiations with Russia is President Zelensky.
Last Wednesday, while visiting Poland for the first time since the invasion, Zelensky said Ukraine’s planned spring counteroffensive could launch sooner if the country received more ammunition from its allies in the West.
In his evening address on Saturday, Zelensky announced that Poland will be providing Ukraine with 200 infantry fighting vehicles, half of which are expected to arrive soon. Poland is also expected to deliver MiG-29 fighter jets, additional missiles, and self-propelled mortars.