Ukraine will fight Russia until winning, says Podoliak

Ukraine will fight Russia until winning, says Podoliak

Despite Russia's advances in the Donbass, Ukrainian presidential adviser and peace talks negotiator Mikhail Podoliak said on Saturday that Kiev would not seek an agreement with Moscow. His statement contradicts earlier overtures to diplomacy made by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Any agreement with Russia isn't worth a broken penny, Podoliak stated in a Telegram post. Russia is a barbarian country that threatens world security. Ukraine will fight Russia until the victorious finale, he continued, saying that a barbarian can only be stopped by force. Podoliak led the Ukrainian delegation during several rounds of unsuccessful peace talks during the initial weeks of Russia's military operation in Ukraine. His denunciation of talks with Moscow is in stark contrast to President Volodymyr Zelensky's acknowledgement that he may try and go the diplomatic way if Russian President Vladimir Putin is willing to talk directly.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, was skeptical of Zelensky's apparent embrace of diplomacy.

The Ukrainian leadership always makes statements that contradict each other, which makes it impossible to fully understand its intentions and whether it is ready to take a sober approach to the real state of affairs, Peskov told reporters on Friday.

Since the conflict began in February, a similar pattern has been played out, with Zelensky repeatedly expressing interest in negotiating a settlement with Russia, only for his officials, the US State Department, or Zelensky himself to express the opposite sentiment shortly after. Since the surrender of the last Ukrainian forces in Mariupol earlier this month, Russian troops and soldiers from the Donetsk and Lugansk republics have captured the key towns of Popasnaya and Liman in northern Donbass and closed in on Slavyansk. Russian troops are now within a few kilometers of the major supply hub of Bakhmut, with fighting continuing in the Severodonetsk and Lisichansk salient.

Amid this advance, Ukraine s Western backers that previously insisted that Ukraine would win the ongoing conflict have begun to admit that Russian forces are inflicting damage on Ukraine's military. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described Russia's progress in Donbass as palpable on Friday, while Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Moscow's forces are making some incremental gains in the Donbass. On Friday, the Washington Post offered a rare glimpse into what Ukrainian troops described as staggering losses, mutiny in the ranks and starvation in the trenches, with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba conceding that the situation in Donbass is extremely bad.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, among others, has urged the Ukrainians to sue for peace. UK PM Johnson has called on the UK's allies to send heavier weapons to Kiev, while the Biden administration gave the green light to deliver long-range rocket artillery systems to Ukraine.