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The Kremlin said on Thursday it “expects” Ukraine’s leaders to comply with their territorial claims in order to end the brutal campaign they have waged for more than three months.
“Moscow expects Kyiv to accept Moscow’s demands and realize the de facto situation – the real situation that exists,” said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a Pravda translation. .
When asked in an interview with Russian media whether the demands extended to “territorial concessions”, Peskov responded by saying, “These are not territorial concessions.”
“Kyiv needs to recognize the de facto situation and just soberly assess,” he added.
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Russian Major General Rustam Minnekaev first announced last month that the Kremlin would seek “full control” of the eastern Donbass region and all southern port regions after Moscow failed to take Kyiv in the course of of the first month of his invasion.
But Ukrainian officials have warned they believe Russian forces will return to try to take the capital if they manage to gain control of other parts of the country.
Peskov’s comments come after weeks of stalled negotiations and suggestions by some Western officials that Kyiv should give up some of its territorial integrity.
Speaking this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger suggested that Ukraine should abandon Crimea as it has been occupied by Russian forces since 2014.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has unequivocally rejected those calls and pledged to keep fighting despite what is expected to be an increasingly brutal campaign.
“Do you remember how it all started on February 24, when many around the world didn’t even believe that Ukraine would be able to withstand a full-scale war? Many of them just didn’t want to consider Ukraine,” he said in a speech Wednesday night.
In a scathing address, Zelenskyy condemned Kissinger’s comments and suggested he had not learned from mistakes made before World War II.
“It appears that Mr. Kissinger’s timeline is not 2022, but 1938, and he thought he was speaking to an audience not in Davos, but in Munich at the time,” he said.
Zelenkyy’s line was made in reference to the 1938 Munich Agreement signed by Britain, France, Italy and Germany, which gave Nazi leader Adolf Hitler land in Czechoslovakia in an attempt unsuccessful in persuading him to abandon his aggression in Europe.
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“Those who advise Ukraine to give something to Russia – great geopoliticians – always refuse to see ordinary people. Ordinary Ukrainians,” he continued. “Millions of those who actually live in the territory they offer to trade for the illusion of peace. You still have to see people.
“Remember that values are not just a word,” Zelenskyy said.