Ukraine Wants UN-Backed Peace Deal With Russia, But On One Condition: Officials
Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
A top Ukrainian official said on Monday that the country wants a United Nations-backed peace summit to end the war with Russia by February 2023 but only if Moscow faces a war crimes tribunal in an international court first.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Associated Press in an interview that Ukraine will do whatever it can to win the war next year as the conflict continues to rage on but that he hopes that both sides can reach a diplomatic deal.
“Every war ends in a diplomatic way. Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table,” Kuleba said. “The United Nations could be the best venue for holding this summit because this is not about making a favor to a certain country.”
The top official added that his government wants U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to serve as a mediator at the potential peace summit, because he has “proven himself to be an efficient mediator and an efficient negotiator, and most importantly, as a man of principle and integrity.”
In response to Kuleba’s comments, U.N. associate spokesperson Florencia Soto Nino-Martinez told The Associated Press on Monday: “As the secretary-general has said many times in the past, he can only mediate if all parties want him to mediate.”
Russia ‘Not the Ones Refusing to Negotiate’
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said on multiple occasions in recent months that Moscow is ready to negotiate to bring an end to the deadly conflict with its neighbor. In an interview with state television Rossiya 1 on Christmas Day, Putin appeared to suggest that Ukraine is refusing to hold peace talks.
“We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them - we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” Putin said.
The Russian President also added that he believes his country is “acting in the right direction” and “defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people. And we have no other choice but to protect our citizens.”
However, in a statement on Monday commenting on Kuleba’s proposal, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told the state RIA Novosti news agency that Russia “never followed conditions set by others. Only our own and common sense.”
Washington has said that the only resolution to ending the war in Ukraine is for Russian forces to pull out of the country.
Meanwhile, CIA Director William Burns said in an interview with PBS published on Dec. 16 that the CIA does not believe Putin is serious about holding negotiations to end the war.
Putin’s so-called large-scale “special military operation” began in Ukraine on Feb. 24. While Ukraine has managed to win back large swathes of land initially seized by Russian forces, Russia now controls around a fifth of Ukraine.
In September, Russia annexed the disputed regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia following what Western leaders branded sham elections.
Russia ‘Responsible for Vast Majority’ of War Crimes: UN Commission
Russian officials have said that a peace deal will need to ensure that Ukraine recognizes Russia’s sovereignty over the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed in 2014, as well as other territorial gains.
As peace talks seem increasingly unlikely, the war continues to rage on. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), more than 17,000 civilian Ukrainians have died or been injured throughout the invasion so far, while up to 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed, according to reports.
Further reports suggest that over 100,000 Russian soldiers have died or been injured, although the Russian government places that figure much lower.
In October, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, which was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council, concluded that it had found reasonable grounds to conclude that an “array of war crimes, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been committed in Ukraine.”
The conclusion came following an investigation of events in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Sumy regions in late February and March 2022.
“The impact of these violations on the civilian population in Ukraine is immense. The loss of lives is in the thousands. The destruction of infrastructure is devastating,” said Chair of the Commission Erik Møse in a statement.
While the Commission noted that Ukrainian forces have also committed international humanitarian law violations in some cases, including two incidents that qualify as war crimes, it said that Russian forces are responsible for a “vast majority” of the violations.