Ukraine war: Force Russia to make peace, Zelensky urges West

image source, Good pictures

  • author, Matt Murphy
  • stock, BBC News
  • Report from London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Western leaders to use “all means” necessary to pressure Russia for peace.

Speaking in Spain, Mr Zelensky said there must be “resolute coercion of Russia”, which is seeking to “destroy Ukraine and move on”.

Mr Zelensky has long said he will not negotiate directly with Russia until Moscow’s forces leave all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.

However, his call comes as Russia gains ground against Ukraine, where Kiev is suffering from a shortage of Western-supplied weapons.

Russia, he said, drops about 3,200 aerial bombs on Ukraine every month.

“How to fight it?” Mr Zelensky asked reporters in Madrid where he had met Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Ukraine’s president rejected the idea of ​​inviting Russia to a peace conference in Switzerland next month.

More than 90 countries are expected to attend the summit.

The delegation will “try to develop a course for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine” based on 10 demands that call for the return of all occupied territories, compensation for war-related damages and the creation of a special court to prosecute. Russian war crimes, a plan Moscow flatly rejected.

Russia publicly says it is open to peace talks if it retains control of already-conquered territories in Ukraine.

In Madrid, Mr Zelensky urged Western leaders to lift sanctions on donated weapons used to attack Russian territory.

“We must work together and put pressure not only on Russia, but also on our partners, to give us the opportunity to defend ourselves against Russia,” the Ukrainian president said.

On Monday, Russia said its forces had captured two more villages in eastern Ukraine, as a new summer offensive continues to gain momentum.

Russian gains in the country’s northeast have been its most significant for 18 months, during which its forces have been caught up in intense fighting, mostly in the Donbass region.

Mr Zelensky has warned that the successes could mark the start of a wider offensive, saying on Sunday that Moscow was massing “another group of troops near our border”, about 90 km (56 miles) northwest of Kharkiv.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022.

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