“At this particular moment, these peace negotiations are far from real negotiations,” Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, chairman of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Committee for the Integration of Ukraine into the European Union, told a small group of reporters during a roundtable discussion organized by the German Marshall Fund. thinktank.
“Certainly, I think Putin is using this as a smokescreen, buying time to regroup… and sending false, lying messages to the whole world,” she said.
“We feel that these are not real peace talks at the moment,” said MP Anastasia Radina, head of the parliamentary committee on anti-corruption policy. “We feel that Russia is trying to save face. They say they are withdrawing troops from the Kiev region. That is not true for one simple reason. They are not withdrawing. … They have been kicked out.”
Radina said there is only “one way out of the war, and that is for Ukraine to win.”
Their comments came a day after Russia’s defense ministry said it had decided to “drasically reduce” hostilities around Kiev and Chernihiv. US officials, including President Joe Biden, remain skeptical of the announcement.
“We’ll see,” Biden said on Tuesday when asked about Russia’s claims. “I’m not reading anything into it until I see what their actions are. We’ll see if they follow through on what they suggest.”
Need more weapons
“A right action for Ukraine at this time, for aid to Ukraine at this time, would be weapons,” Radina said. “Ukraine is constantly asking for weapons and not only defensive weapons, but also offensive weapons. In our situation, this distinction between defensive and offensive is frankly humiliating. In our situation, all weapons are defensive because we are defending our country.”
Radina reiterated that Ukraine needs fighter jets, “because this is how we can stop bombing. … And from now on, this is the issue on the table, and while it is on the table, people will continue to suffer.”
“Our ‘humanitarian aid’ is weapons,” said MP Maria Ionova. “To minimize these casualties and casualties, we must defend our air. Freedom must be armed. And so our main message here is: please help us defend our future and the future of the democratic world.”
‘Neutrality is not an option for Ukraine’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has indicated that Ukraine may be willing to renounce NATO membership and commit to neutrality if the West gives Ukraine solid security guarantees. But such a move would require a referendum — and Klympush-Tsintsadze said anything less than NATO membership should be rejected.
“Neutrality is not an option for Ukraine,” she said. “I want everyone to understand that we were non-aligned. We were a non-block country in 2014. It didn’t stop Putin from attacking us at that time. And it didn’t stop him from being a part of “Conquering our territory. Won’t stop him. Even if we write in all the papers, everywhere, that we are neutral. He’s just not interested in our existence as such.”
Radina echoed those comments, saying that “absolute neutrality is not an option for Ukraine” because Russia will always border the country and will strive to “wipe” Ukraine off the map.
“So yes, we are looking for workable security guarantees and not just any Budapest memorandum,” she said.
The UK, US and Russia signed that memorandum — which would ban those countries from using military force against Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan — in exchange for giving up their nuclear weapons.
Zelensky told the Munich Security Conference last month that Ukraine has “tried three times” since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, “to consult with the states guaranteeing the Budapest Memorandum. Three times without success.”