For the first time, the Ukrainian President's Office has announced the conditions under which Ukraine might be prepared to begin negotiations with Russia regarding the occupied Crimea. Oleg Sybiga, deputy head of the Office, said in a comment to the Financial Times that this will happen once Ukrainian troops are positioned on the border with the peninsula.
"If we succeed in achieving our strategic goals on the battlefield and once we reach the administrative border with Crimea, we are ready to open [the] diplomatic page to discuss this issue," he said, while discussing Ukraine's future counteroffensive.
Sybiga clarified his comments by saying: "That doesn't mean that we exclude achieving the liberation [of Crimea] by our army."
This is the first statement by the Ukrainian authorities, even suggesting the possibility of any negotiations, since last April, when Kyiv ceased all negotiations with Russia after the full-scale invasion on Feb.24, 2022.
The Financial Times notes that Sybiha’s remarks may come as some relief to western officials who are skeptical about Ukraine’s ability to reclaim the peninsula militarily and worry that any attempt to do so, could lead President Vladimir Putin to escalate his war, possibly with the use of nuclear weapons.
To date President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian spokesmen have ruled out the chance for peace talks until Russian forces have left all of Ukraine, including Crimea.
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