Ukraine must not give in to Vladimir Putin's demands, Poland's president says

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Andrzej Duda - JAKUB SZYMCZUK/POLISH PRESIDENCY
Andrzej Duda - JAKUB SZYMCZUK/POLISH PRESIDENCY

Ukraine must not give in to Vladimir Putin, the Polish president has said in a speech to Kyiv's parliament, as he warned the West against appeasing Russia.

Andrzej Duda, who became the first foreign leader to address Ukrainian MPs in person since the start of the war, said only Ukraine has the right to decide its future after calls for a settlement.

Ukrainian officials are seething at increasing calls from the West for Kyiv to cede territory to Russia and end the conflict to avoid the war from spilling over into a global conflict.

"Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to Putin’s demands," he said in his speech to the Verkhovna Rada, interrupted by standing ovations.

"Only Ukraine has the right to make decisions about its future… Nothing about you without you."

Andrzej Duda - JAKUB SZYMCZUK/POLISH PRESIDENCY
Andrzej Duda - JAKUB SZYMCZUK/POLISH PRESIDENCY
Zelensky - JAKUB SZYMCZUK/POLISH PRESIDENCY
Zelensky - JAKUB SZYMCZUK/POLISH PRESIDENCY

Officials in Kyiv have been angered by an article written by the New York Times, suggesting that Kyiv will "have to make the painful territorial decisions" to end the war.

The article was aimed at the White House, and raised questions over whether the West can continue to support Ukraine.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky who is involved in negotiations with Russia, lashed out at the newspaper on Saturday for inviting a country at war to make compromises with an invader that has perpetrated horrific war crimes on its soil.

"Any concessions to Russia is not a path to peace but a war postponed for several years," he said.

"Ukraine trades neither its sovereignty, nor territories and Ukrainians living on them. It’s a pity we have to explain such simple things to such reputable media as the New York Times."

As recently as three months ago, Europe contemplated a possible fall-out from Ukraine’s military defeat.

Andrzej Duda - JAKUB SZYMCZUK/POLISH PRESIDENCY
Andrzej Duda - JAKUB SZYMCZUK/POLISH PRESIDENCY

Now, several European leaders have begun to express concern about the prospect of co-existence with a defeated nuclear power.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said earlier this month that peace efforts would not be served by humiliating Russia.

"The end of the discussion and the negotiations will be set by Ukraine and Russia. But it will not be done in denial, nor in exclusion of each other, nor even in humiliation," he said,

Olaf Sholz, the German chancellor, agreed in a phone call with President Zelensky earlier this week that Russia has to withdraw from Ukraine as part of any peace deal that can be discussed.

But he stopped short of saying whether that would include Crimea - which Russia seized in 2014 - or part of eastern Ukraine that has been under de-facto Russian control for the past eight years.

President Zelensky said in an interview on Saturday that he is committed to talks, but argued that Kyiv’s willingness to negotiate depends on Russia’s actions on the ground.

He admitted that Russian atrocities in Bucha and other Kyiv suburbs made it difficult for him to discuss a peace deal, and that Ukrainian society now has little appetite for any concessions.

Mr Duda, the Polish president, said that Russia’s war crimes should make it impossible for Western leaders to rebuild ties with President Putin, even if there is a peace deal.

"Dear presidents and prime ministers, there can never be ‘business as usual’ with Russia after Bucha, Borodyanka and Mariupol," he said.

Military experts in Ukraine have discarded the idea of peace talks with Russia, saying that the Kremlin is likely to use the time to regroup its exhausted forces and prepare for another attack.

Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Ukraine’s former defence minister, said it’s up to the West to help Ukraine win the war.

“Ukraine can win, and this, in many ways, depends on how our partners, including the US, are going to be sending weapons, hardware, and munitions,” he told the Kyiv Independent on Saturday.

He urged the New York Times editors to read the newspaper's own reporting on the horrors of the war in Ukraine.

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