A former deputy of the Russian State Duma, Boris Nadezhdin, whom the Russian opposition calls “the only anti-war candidate” for the presidency, has stated in an interview with Deutsche Welle that returning Crimea to Ukraine is “absolutely impossible.”
The Russian politician made the statement while discussing his proposed first steps in the initial days and weeks as president of the Russian Federation.
“On the very first day, I will offer the leadership of Ukraine, the leadership of America, and all European countries – the coalition that supports Ukraine – to do two things,” he said.
The first action would be a ceasefire, including cessation of hostilities.
“This can be done quickly, in a few days,” he told DW, adding “we can agree on the format of the ceasefire.”
The Kremlin’s new “liberal” presidential candidate Nadezhdin says it is impossible to end the Russian occupation of Crimea pic.twitter.com/LAI97BaxEM— Business Ukraine mag (@Biz_Ukraine_Mag) February 4, 2024
The second action, which the politician described as more challenging, would involve initiating negotiations.
“It will be a long story – for several years – about how to ensure security in Europe,” Nadezhdin said.
The politician emphasized that the positions of various participants in the war, which he referred to as a “conflict” in the interview, are diametrically opposed.
“Ukrainians want to liberate Crimea by military means, to return it, which, in my opinion, is absolutely impossible. I am ready to talk with anyone – even with [President Volodymyr] Zelensky,” Nadezhdin said.
The interviewing noted that Ukraine is clear about its aim to see a withdrawal of Russian forces from Crimea and back to the Russian border. However, Nadezhdin asserted that whoever becomes the president of Russia will “definitely not accept this position.”
“One hundred percent [I can’t accept]. That's why negotiations will be long, but I know what I will tell Zelensky, the Ukrainian people, and the Americans,” Nadezhdin said.
"But another question is much more important,” he said.” How to make sure people don't kill each other.”
Previously, Nadezhdin opposed the idea of trying Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes in Ukraine on the basis of immunity. However, he wants to try Russian servicemen responsible for committing war crimes in the occupied territories of Ukraine according to the laws of the Russian Federation and without the intervention of The Hague.
Nadezhdin described military operations in the east of Ukraine as the biggest problem. “There is blood on both sides,” he said. “But this entire conflict is mutually beneficial for maintaining power in both Ukraine and Russia.”
Nadezhdin suggested that “conquered territories” could be removed from the Constitution of Russia if “the price of peace depends on borders.”
Presidential hopes dashed?
Nadezhdin collected 200,000 signatures and submitted them to the Central Election Commission of Russia for registration as a candidate in next month’s presidential elections.
However, the commission has found flaws in paperwork submitted by Nadezhdin that could be used to keep him off the ballot paper.
Nadezhdin said that a working group of the commission had thrown out more than 15 percent of signatures it checked from those he submitted backing his candidacy.
A Russian elections official said last week that it had found the names of "dead souls" among the signatures submitted by Nadezhdin in what was seen as paving the way to block him from standing.
Nadezhdin said that, should the commission refuse registration, he intends to appeal to the Supreme Court of Russia.
The Central Election Commission will announce the official decision on whether Nadezhdin can stand as a presidential candidate on Feb. 7.
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