Ukraine says talks with Russia hinge on ‘territorial integrity’

Kyiv calls for the restoration of Ukraine’s borders as a precondition for negotiations while ruling out any talks with Putin.

A Ukrainian national flag rises over a local council's headquarter building in the village of Lymany near a frontline in Ukraine's Mykolaiv region on October 18
A Ukrainian national flag rises over a local council's headquarters in the country's southern Mykolaiv region on October 18 [File: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

Kyiv’s main precondition for entering negotiations with Russia on ending the war is the return of all captured Ukrainian land, according to a high-ranking security official.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, said on Tuesday that the Ukrainian side also needed the “guarantee” of modern air defences, aircraft, tanks and long-range missiles.

Kyiv has repeatedly called for additional arms from its Western backers following Russia’s invasion in late February.

“The main condition of the President of Ukraine is restoration of Ukrainian territorial integrity,” Danilov tweeted.

“Guarantee – modern air defence, aircraft, tanks, and long-range missiles. Strategy – proactive steps. Russian missiles must be destroyed before launch in the air, on land and at sea,” he said.

Danilov’s remarks came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his overnight address on Monday that he was open to “genuine” negotiations with Russia that would restore Ukraine’s borders.

He also called for compensation following devastating Russian attacks, and demanded those responsible for alleged war crimes are punished.

Talk of a negotiated end to the conflict has risen in recent days, after the Washington Post newspaper reported that the United States has privately encouraged Ukrainian officials to signal an openness to talk with its neighbour.

US officials reportedly want Ukraine to take the moral high ground and appear more interested in negotiations, amid concerns Kyiv might soon lose international support if it remains resolutely against discussions.

After Russia announced the annexation of four partly occupied regions of Ukraine at the end of September, Zelenskyy said Kyiv will not hold talks with Moscow as long as President Vladimir Putin remains in power.

Government figures have restated this position in recent days, saying that Kyiv would however be willing to negotiate with a successor to Putin.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow is open to talks but that Kyiv is refusing them. Russian officials have repeatedly said they will not negotiate over territory they claim to have annexed from Ukraine.

Apart from Russia-ally North Korea, no countries recognise the latest annexations. Most of the world also refuses to recognise Crimea, annexed in 2014, as Russian land.

Meanwhile, the US, Ukraine’s main backer, is holding mid-term elections for Congress on Tuesday.

Although most candidates from both parties strongly support Kyiv, some right-wing Republican candidates have expressed doubt about the cost of US military aid while others on the left faced backlash after calling for “vigorous” diplomacy to end the war.

The White House says US support for Ukraine will be “unflinching and unwavering” regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s votes.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies