Zelenskyy lambasts idea of concessions to end war, evokes appeasement of Hitler

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivers an address via videolink during the opening plenary session of the 51st annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, 23 May 2022. [EPA-EFE/GIAN EHRENZELLER]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday (25 May) savaged suggestions that Kyiv give up territory and make concessions to end the war with Russia, saying the idea smacked of attempts to appease Nazi Germany in 1938.

The angry comments by Zelenskyy and a senior aide come as Ukrainian troops are facing a renewed offensive in two eastern regions that Russian-speaking separatists seized part of in 2014.

The New York Times editorial board said on 19 May that a negotiated peace might require Kyiv to make some hard decisions, given that a decisive military victory was not realistic.

And former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger this week suggested at the World Economic Forum in Davos that Ukraine should let Russia keep Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

“Whatever the Russian state does, you will always find someone who says ‘Let’s take its interests into account’,” Zelenskyy said in a late night video address.

“You get the impression that Mr Kissinger doesn’t have 2022 on his calendar, but 1938, and that he thinks he is talking to an audience not in Davos but in Munich back then.”

In 1938, Britain, France, Italy and Germany sighed a pact in Munich that gave Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler land in the then Czechoslovakia as part of a failed attempt to persuade him to abandon further territorial expansion.

“Perhaps the New York Times also wrote something similar in 1938. But let me remind you, it’s now 2022,” said Zelenskyy.

“Those who advise Ukraine to give something to Russia, these ‘great geopolitical figures’, never see ordinary people, ordinary Ukrainians, millions living on the territory they are proposing to exchange for an illusory peace.”

Italy and Hungary have urged the European Union to call explicitly for a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks with Russia, putting themselves at odds with other member states determined to take a hard line with Moscow.

Earlier, in an expletive-filled tirade, Zelenskyy adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said some European nations clearly wanted Ukraine to make concessions to Putin.

“No one is going to trade a gram of our sovereignty or a millimetre of our territory,” he said in video remarks posted online. “Our children are dying, soldiers are being blown apart by shells, and they tell us to sacrifice territory. Get lost. It’s never going to happen.”

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman earlier said an Italian peace plan for Ukraine was a “fantasy”.

“You can’t supply Ukraine with weapons with one hand and come up with plans for a peaceful resolution of the situation with the other,” Maria Zakharova said at her weekly briefing, referring to the Italian initiative.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio gave the broad outlines of the plan last week. The Kremlin said on Tuesday it had not seen the initiative but hoped to receive it through diplomatic channels.

EU cracks over Ukraine widen ahead of summit as Italy, Hungary urge truce

Italy and Hungary have urged the EU to call for a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks with Russia, putting themselves at odds with other member states determined to take a hard line with Moscow ahead of next week’s summit.

Zakaharova said of the reported proposal: “If they hope that the Russian Federation will seize on any Western plan, then they haven’t understood much.”

(Edited by Georgi Gotev)

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