Borrell: Russia won’t enter negotiations while trying to win war
The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, on Monday (29 May) said he believed Russia will not be willing to negotiate while it is still trying to win the war in Ukraine, adding that he was “not optimistic” about what could happen in the conflict this summer.
“I see a concentration of troops on both sides, the clear will of Russia to try to win the war,” Borrell told an event in Barcelona. “(Russia) will not go to a negotiation until it has tried to win the war.”
He added that Russia has repeatedly signaled it would not cease the campaign until its military goals have been achieved.
Borrell’s comments came the same day Russia said its military had hit Ukrainian air bases and Ukrainian forces shelled industrial facilities inside Russia as both sides sought the upper hand ahead of what Kyiv hopes will be a decisive counter-offensive.
“I’m afraid that between now and the summer, the war is going to continue. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has amassed over 300,000 men there, twice as many as he had when he launched the invasion,” Borrell told reporters after the event.
Russia’s military presence in Ukraine was “enormous” and it was still bombing Ukraine daily and destroying civilian infrastructure, he added.
“I’m afraid that they don’t do that without a plan. We have to be prepared, which means continuing to help Ukraine, because if we don’t help it, Ukraine cannot defend (itself),” Borrell said.
Post-war demilitarized zone?
A Ukrainian presidential aide said on Monday a demilitarised zone of 100-120 km should be established inside Russia along the border with Ukraine as part of a post-war settlement.
The zone would be necessary to protect Ukrainian regions from Russian attacks, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
“The key theme of the post-war settlement should be the establishment of safeguards to avoid the recurrence of aggression in the future,” he wrote.
He made his remarks after the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, called in televised comments for the annexation of Ukraine’s Kharkiv region to stop Ukrainian cross-border shelling.
Moscow says Ukraine has stepped up drone and sabotage attacks against targets inside Russia as it prepares for the offensive. Kyiv has denied firing at targets inside Russia, saying it is fighting a defensive war on its own territory.
To ensure the safety of residents in several frontline Ukrainian regions, he wrote, “it will be necessary to introduce a demilitarization zone of 100-120 km on the territory of Belgorod, Bryansk, Kursk, and Rostov republics.”
The reference to the Russian regions as republics appeared to be a nod towards Moscow backing separatist entities calling themselves “people’s republics” in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions which border Russia.
Podolyak said the demilitarised zone could initially have an international presence to control it.
“Probably, at the initial stage with a mandatory international control contingent,” he wrote.