Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that ‘real peace’ can only be achieved with the ‘complete destruction of Russian aggression’.
Russia wants a “short truce” – a proposal Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has strongly rejected as it would allow Moscow’s military to regain strength after several defeats on the battlefield.
Russian officials have repeatedly said they were ready to engage in peace talks without any conditions, but it is unclear whether they will make a decision to end the war as Zelenskyy said on Friday.
“Russia is now looking for a short agreement, a break to regain strength. One can say that this is the end of the war, but such a break will only increase the situation,” said the leader of Ukraine.
“Real, lasting and honest peace can only be the result of the complete destruction of Russian aggression.”
The United States has said that only Zelenskyy can decide when to open peace talks with Russia, rejecting a proposal that would force Kyiv to negotiate an end to the nearly nine-month war that began with Moscow’s invasion.
General Mark Milley, the head of the US military, said this week that despite Ukraine’s military success, Moscow still controls 20 percent of the country, and it is unlikely that Kyiv’s military will force the Russians any time soon.
Ukraine regained control of the key southern city of Kherson last week. He had been captured by Russian forces since the beginning of the war at the end of February.
Kherson marked the third major offensive after Ukrainian forces pushed back Russian forces near Kyiv in April and retook large swaths of the northeast in September.
Zelenskyy said on Monday that “investigators have already documented more than 400 Russian crimes” in Kherson.
The Conflict Observatory, a war crimes research group under the Yale University School of Public Health, documented that 226 people have been unjustly arrested and forcibly displaced in the southern city. About a quarter of these people were allegedly tortured and four died in prison.
Most of the arrests and disappearances were carried out by the Russian military and the FSB security agency, and half of those arrested “do not appear to have been released”, the Conflict Observatory said in a report on Friday.
Men of military age – including civil servants, civil society leaders, teachers, law enforcement officers and journalists – made up the majority of those arrested and disappeared.
“These findings show that there are many reasons to worry about the abuse of prisoners, including cases of killings in prisons; A common use of torture is cruel, cruel, or humiliating… [and] gender-based violence,” said the report.
It said that after seizing Kherson in March, the Russians arrived with lists of names and license numbers, targeting people they thought would refuse their presence.
The Crimean Tatars were also persecuted and many were accused of being part of a group of Russians who called them Tatar “terrorists”.
The Conflict Observatory said that while some of those arrested were released, “many others are still in prison or missing, unknown to their families” since the Russian army left the city of Kherson.