On Tuesday, Russia rejected a peace proposal from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that called for the withdrawal of Russian forces, claiming that Kyiv had to come to terms with new territorial “realities.”
According to Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, these realities include Russia’s annexation of four areas of Ukraine, which it announced in September but which the majority of UN member states have denounced as unlawful.
He was responding to a request by Zelenskiy to leaders from Group of Seven powers on Monday for more military equipment, support for financial and energy stability, and backing for a peace solution that would start with Russia withdrawing troops from Ukraine, beginning this Christmas.
“These are three steps towards a continuation of hostilities,” Peskov said.
“The Ukrainian side needs to take into account the realities that have developed during this time,” he added when asked about the proposed Russian troop withdrawal.
There could be “no question” of Russia starting to pull out its troops by the end of the year, he said.
Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed as illegal shams the “referendums” that Peskov referred to in four regions of south and eastern Ukraine that Russia partly occupies, saying they were conducted at gunpoint.
Since the annexations, Russia has lost significant ground in the south and east of Ukraine and has spoken more frequently of its willingness to hold peace talks.
But it says it does not see Ukraine and the West, which is supplying Kyiv with weapons, as ready to negotiate. Moscow has rejected charges that its talk of diplomacy is an attempt to buy time to allow its depleted forces to regroup after nearly 10 months of war and a series of defeats and retreats.
Zelenskiy pleaded with G7 leaders on Monday to support his proposal of holding a special Global Peace Summit in response to Ukraine’s demands that Russia cease its attacks and withdraw from all of the area it has occupied.
The summit would be centered on carrying out Kyiv’s 10-point peace plan, which demands, among other things, that Russia withdraw all of its soldiers from Ukraine and that Kyiv make no territorial compromises.
In his weekly video address on Monday, Zelenskiy stated, “No matter what the aggressor intends to do, when the world is truly united,