Asserting that Russia was seeking a “short truce” with Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vehemently rejected the idea since it would only allow Moscow’s soldiers to reassemble.
His remarks, made in a prepared video on Friday to open the Halifax International Security Forum in 2022, revealed a leader who was hesitant to put an end to the conflict and who had no interest in early peace negotiations.
He claimed that Russia was now seeking a brief ceasefire so that it could gather momentum. “Some could call this the end of the conflict. However, a break like that would make things worse.
He added that “the complete deconstruction of Russian aggression” is the only way to bring about a “honest peace” and that “immoral compromises would only result in additional blood.”
It is unknown how formally, if at all, Moscow offered the truce proposal. Similar claims, made by Zelenskyy, that any attempt to end the war would be more advantageous to Russia than Ukraine, have been made in the past. Having just compelled Russian soldiers to leave the southern city of Kherson, Ukrainian forces presently control the war’s momentum.
This time, though, Zelenskyy’s remarks were made in a different context as U.S. officials prod their Ukrainian colleagues to defuse the situation and take steps that might result in a peaceful settlement of the conflict. He made it clear to the leaders and experts of the democracies across the world—many of whom support Ukraine—that there could be no peace on Russia’s conditions.
Zelenskyy’s comments were more blunt and forthright, suggesting that Moscow may have directly appealed to Kyiv as pressure to find a peaceful resolution to the war grows. The head of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley, has twice suggested that a lull in hostilities over the winter would open doors for diplomacy.
The State Department and National Security Council spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment. An inquiry sent by email to the Russian Embassy in Washington similarly did not receive a prompt response.
The conference in Halifax, a significant yearly gathering that brings together important officials from democratic nations and campaigners seeking a democratic future for their countries, was nevertheless set off by Zelenskyy’s uncompromising speech. This year’s meeting is centred on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its consequences, and conference materials and accoutrements are decorated in the yellow and blue of Ukraine.
The West, as well as current and former Ukrainian officials, will discuss in public and in private how to best assist Kyiv in its hour of need, so Russia won’t find any sympathy here.
Zelenskyy’s emphatic appeal for continuous resistance to Russia, even if Moscow wants a break, will now have an impact on those discussions.
Zelenskyy declared that “peace is feasible,” but in order for it to exist, we must render Russian aggression in all of its forms impossible. Let it take place. Let there be harmony.
A number of legislators in Halifax who are from both parties will also support Ukraine strongly. One of the delegation’s leaders, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), emphasised that support for Ukraine continues to enjoy “extremely strong bipartisan support” on Capitol Hill.
Following Zelenskyy’s remarks, Shaheen stated on a panel, “We share the same sentiment…that this battle is about a lot more than whether Ukraine is able to protect their territorial integrity.”