Kyiv could negotiate on Crimea when Ukrainian army reaches border of peninsula, senior official says - UPDATED
Andriy Sybiha (Photo:Office of the President)
Ukraine could start negotiations on Crimea when the Ukrainian Armed Forces reach the administrative border of the Russian-occupied Ukrainian peninsula, Deputy Head of the President’s Office Andriy Sybiha said in an interview with the Financial Times on April 5.
"If we will succeed in achieving our strategic goals on the battlefield and when we are on the administrative border with Crimea, we are ready to open a diplomatic page to discuss this issue," he said, referring to Kyiv's planned counteroffensive.
At the same time, Sybiha added that this does not mean that Kyiv rules out "the way of (the territory’s) liberation by (the Ukrainian) army.
"Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s deputy chief-of-staff also noted that the president and his aides are now talking more specifically about Crimea because the Armed Forces are getting closer to launching a counter-offensive to liberate Ukrainian territories seized by Russia.
The newspaper noted that such statements by Sybiha may reassure Western officials who are skeptical of Ukraine's ability to liberate the peninsula and worry that any attempt to do so militarily could provoke Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to escalate the war, possibly with the use of nuclear weapons.
However, responding to the FT article later on April 6 the Ukrainian president's spokesperson, Serhiy Nikiforov, in comments to Ukrainian news website Liga.net gave a mild slapdown to Sybiha's earlier comments.
"In this matter, one should focus primarily on the words of the President of Ukraine – the Supreme Commander-in-Chief," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's spokesman said.
In recent comments, Zelenskyy again said that there would only be peace talks with Russian officials after the complete withdrawal of Russian forces from the entire territory of Ukraine.
Earlier, the Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Tamila Tasheva said in an interview with Radio NV that the Russian occupation authorities are panicking and digging trenches along virtually the entire coast of the Crimean Peninsula, which is evidenced by satellite imagery.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Office of the President, predicted that the Ukrainian army would be in occupied Crimea in five to seven months, as Russia does not have the resources to control the situation.
Previously, President Zelenskyy stated that Russia's war against Ukraine should end with the liberation of Crimea – just as it began with its occupation.
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