Dmitry Kuleba urged that Western military aid continue until Kyiv achieves all of its goals in the face of Russian forces
A long-awaited counter-offensive by Ukraine should not be seen as a watershed moment in its conflict with Russia, Kyiv Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has said, urging his country’s foreign backers to maintain their support whatever the outcome of this expected operation.
“We must by all means counter the perception of the counter-offensive as the decisive battle of the war”, he told the Financial Times, quoted on Wednesday.
He said kyiv feared the operation would not result in Ukrainian troops pushing back against Russia. “100%” out of the territory he wishes to recover. However, in this underperformance scenario, he feared, “Some people may say it was the last climactic battle and now we have to think of an alternative scenario.”
Ukrainian leaders insisted the only option they considered was to retake Crimea on all lands lost by kyiv, including before peace talks could begin. The government has also prohibited by law any negotiations with Russia as long as President Vladimir Putin remains in power.
Kuleba suggested that following a counter-offensive operation like the one anticipated, minority voices “in Washington, in Berlin, in Paris, in London” will try to push for a ceasefire “in the sense of a Minsk III.” He was referring to the two Minsk agreements that were supposed to guide Kyiv and its then breakaway regions to cooperate in a stable peace.
The People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk threw out the authorities that came to power in 2014 after an armed coup in Kyiv and fought for independence, after which Kyiv sent troops to crush them.
Last year, amid hostilities with Russia, former leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany – the latter two had brokered the Minsk accords – acknowledged that the accords were really about giving in Kiev time to strengthen its army. Moscow said this confirmed that the three sides negotiated in bad faith, adding that it proved once again that Western politicians should not be trusted.
During the planned counter-offensive, Ukraine should capitalize on newly delivered Western weapons, including main battle tanks. Last week, however, Zelensky said his country was not ready to launch one, citing a shortage of armaments.
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