Russian pleas for talks are a ruse, Ukrainian official says
Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak (Photo:www.president.gov.ua)
Russia is not sincere in its calls for negotiations with Ukraine, and is instead looking for a badly-needed lull in hostilities in order to refine its military strategy, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said in a BBC interview on Aug. 9.
“Trying to avoid our counterattacks, Russia now pivots to a hybrid strategy of suggesting to pause (hostilities), sit around a table and negotiate about something,” said Podolyak.
“This won’t work. It’s clearly a part of Russia’s approach to warfare. Russia doesn’t need talks. Russia needs an operational pause, in order to correct its military strategy.”
According to Podolyak, Moscow’s wasn’t prepared to the kind of war it started in Ukraine, because it didn’t really understand Ukraine. The official said that the Kremlin expected the entire country to break and submit in a matter of days.
“So now Russia wants to update its military strategy,” he added.
“(It wants) to stockpile more shells, more missiles. Current Western sanctions create an acute computer chip shortage – they need to source them from somewhere. They want to build up reserves of cash from their energy trade proceeds.”
All this will take time, and that’s exactly why Russia keeps saying it’s ready to negotiate with Ukraine, according to Podolyak.
“Why would Ukraine need them (talks)?” Podolyak said, asking a series of rhetorical questions.
“To cement a new demarcation line? It’s basically Minsk-3 (two interactions of Minsk Accords that followed the outbreak of Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2014 are colloquially known as Minsk-1 and Minsk-2). Was Minsk-2 not enough to realize that no peace would come from surrendering even a sliver of you land?”
The official suggested Russia would demand Ukraine gives up the territories under Russian occupation.
“I want to explain how it would look,” Podolyak commented on how hypothetical negotiations with Russia could turn out.
“They’ll say: ‘Let’s talk; we’ll hold our fire for the moment.’ Then, the line would be ‘We’ve taken some of our lands. There are local governments there; you could call it an occupation, but they are ours. We control them. We won’t give them back. Just recognize you lost them.”
“We would listen to all this and refuse to agree.”
Podolyak then outlines a scenario that would follow:
“A ceasefire (while negotiations are ongoing) would not hold, and Ukraine would counter-attack. We would start delivering blows against Russian forces. Moscow will resume shelling our cities, but at the same time will use (former German Chancellor Gerhard) Schroeder and dozens of other people, to tell Europe: “Look, we ended the war, we stopped shelling Ukrainian territory, we virtually reached a peace deal at the negotiations, but Ukraine decided to resume hostilities. Why do you support the aggressor?”
As it stands, negotiations with Russia will also enable it to start portraying Ukraine as the aggressor, according to Podolyak.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said on Aug. 3 that Russia is ready to negotiate with Ukraine “on its own terms.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnkyy said that Russia talks are impractical until Kyiv liberates its territory.
Help NV continue reporting on the Russian invasion
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google News