Reports suggest that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy believes there is a “high risk” of peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators soon coming to an end – making President Joe Biden’s request to Congress for an additional $33 billion in military aid all the more important.
Interfax reported how the Ukrainian president told Polish journalists that his soldiers want to kill Russian invaders, making it difficult to continue engaging in peace talks.
“People want to kill them,” he said. “When that kind of attitude exists, it’s hard to talk about things.”
Zelenskyy also appeared to reference the Bucha massacre, where Ukrainian civilians were left dead in the streets of the popular Kyiv suburb after Russian troops left the region.
“The risks that that talks will end are high because of what they [Russians’ have left behind them, the impression that they have a playbook on murdering people,” he told journalists.
Moscow denies that Russian soldiers purposely targeted or killed civilians, and Zelenskyy also indicated this week that peace talks between the two countries would come to an end if Russia goes ahead with rumored plans to hold secession referendums in eastern Ukraine.
NATO Official Warns War Could Last Years
One NATO official told the BBC on Friday that the war in Ukraine could last for several more years. NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana said that officials should prepare for the likelihood that the armed conflict will continue long into the future.
“It’s clear that the next few days and weeks could prove decisive, but the war would probably take longer,” Geoana said. “Could be weeks, could be months, could be even years…it depends on a lot of factors.”
Even if peace talks do collapse and the conflict continues, however, the NATO official expressed confidence that the war could eventually be won by Ukraine.
When Were the Last Peace Talks?
The last time direct talks took place between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators was on March 21. The two sides failed to come to an agreement, with Russia insisting that Ukraine establish neutrality, demilitarize, and make Russia an official language within the country.
In April, a peace deal presented to the Russian government by Ukraine was rejected. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the deal had too many “unacceptable” terms.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.