British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to blame for the breakoff in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, a major Ukrainian newspaper reports.
Roman Romaniuk of the Ukrayinska Pravda (Українська правда), quoting officials from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s closest circles, the British politician urged his Ukrainian interlocutors not to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
All that at a moment when Russia told Ukraine she was ready to stage the two Presidents’ meeting right away.
According to Romaniuk’s report, two events ended up forcing a member of the Ukrainian delegation, Mykhailo Podoliak, to say that it was “not the time” for the summit meeting.
First was a wave of reports of atrocities committed by Russians in Ukraine. While most remain unconfirmed as of yet, and many seem more than questionable, they have been widely disseminated by western media.
It remains unclear who had originally triggered this wave of reports. Logic would indicate that it must have been someone keenly uninterested in any peaceful outcome.
The second major reason, reports Romaniuk, happened upon Johnson’s arrival.
The British politician arrived without any advance warnings and he went straight for the jugular. He was bringing two messages to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, Johnson said. The first: Putin is a war criminal, he should be pressured, not negotiated with.
And even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they (meaning the British and the rest of the West) are not.
That was the second message.
Western politicians had suggested Zelenskyy should surrender and flee, in the first days after the February 24 Russian invasion.
They are now hinting that Putin is not really as powerful as they had previously imagined, and that here was a chance to “press him.”
Appraised of the development, Putin waited for three days after Johnson’s return to 10 Downing Street, and then went public to say that talks with Ukraine “had turned into a dead end.
If history is any indication, Ukraine should have been wary of a British Prime Minister’s involvement. Enough to remember Neville Chamberlain and his infamous “peace in our time” appeasement agreement with Adolf Hitler.
According to Ukrayinska Pravda’s description of events, Russian negotiator Roman Abramovich arrived in Kyiv again. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy officially stated that there could be two security agreements with Russia: one would concern Ukraine’s coexistence with Russia, the other – only security guarantees, because not everyone “sees themselves at the same table with the Russian Federation.”
After that, according to Ukrayinska Pravda sources, the bilateral negotiation process was paused.
Ukraine’s western backers were convinced that the Russian military would seize Kyiv within three days and offered Zelenskyy to govern from exile in London or Warsaw, Ukrayinska Pravda reported in a “behind-the-scenes” backgrounder.
Without reaching Ukraine’s capital, Russia offered to open peace negotiations. Zelenskyy sent a delegation, hoping to create the impression he was willing to make a deal.
Points of agreement, published by Russian envoy Vladimir Medinsky following the talks on March 29 in Istanbul, Turkey, were “in fact true,” the Ukrainian paper reports.
One of Johnson’s points was that the Russian bear isn’t as strong as he’s been made out to be, and that, with some more heavy weaponry supplies, the tables can be turned and Ukraine stands a pretty good chance of defeating Russia.
“The moral and values gap between Putin and the world is so great that even the Kremlin will not have a negotiating table long enough to bridge it,” Ukrayinska Pravda wrote.
Obviously, the Russians do not share Ukrainian leadership’s newly-formed opinion that Russia is on her last legs. Kremlin spokesmen keep saying that the Russian military operation in Ukraine is proceeding as planned. The events have entered what they described as a “second phase,” concentrating on destroying or compelling the surrender of Ukrainian forces that have been shelling the Donbass region for most of the past decade. Russian long-range missiles also keep destroying railway junctions used to bring NATO weapons into Ukraine, as well as warehouses where they are being stored.
Most of the weapons sent to Ukraine from NATO countries have become a literal heap of wasted material before it could even be triggered, never mind fired.
Russia attacked the neighbouring state in late February, saying Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare herself a neutral country that will never join the U.S.-led NATO military bloc. Kyiv insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.