In an assessment shared by some military analysts, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko insisted that Russian troops would never take over his city. How Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky might sell capital conservation to his people will be key to a peace deal that could include tough compromises.
Klitschko’s challenge comes as kyiv continues to be battered by Russian forces, but Moscow’s march to take the capital has failed to materialize, adding to Zelensky’s bargaining power as he seeks talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“kyiv control is an important symbol for both sides,” said Peter Rutland, a professor of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
“Whether the capital falls or not, the problem for Zelensky remains that large parts of Ukraine will be under Russian occupation,” he said. Newsweek. Zelensky “will have to negotiate some sort of deal with them [Russia] to induce them to withdraw from the territory they occupied.”
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Saturday that Russia was continuing to make “incremental gains” in southern Ukraine, tightening its grip on the city of Mariupol and controlling areas such as Kherson.
Despite gains east of Kharkiv, which it still does not control, and progress in areas north of kyiv, a convoy stuck outside the Ukrainian capital for days is a sign that the campaign Russia will not plan more than three weeks after the start of hostilities. .
Zelensky conceded that Ukraine will not join NATO, a key demand from Moscow, which, together with Ukraine’s impressive resistance to Russian aggression, provides strong negotiating grounds.
But whether Putin can agree not to take the capital could depend on the kind of victory he can present to the Russian people, whose chauvinism he whipped up on Friday in a speech at an event to mark the eighth anniversary of taking power. Crimea.
For Zelensky, hanging on to kyiv “would be presented as a kind of victory, because the general consensus before the war was that the Russian campaign would be quick,” said Katie Laatikainen, professor of political science at the University of Adelphi (NY).
However, she said Newsweek“it is not clear that the impressive resistance of Zelensky and the Kyivans will be enough to dissuade Putin from wanting anything other than Ukraine’s renunciation of NATO to end the conflict”.
“Putin has framed this conflict in such a way that he needs something more than that to declare victory,” Laatikainen said.
She said Putin “will want recognition of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and recognition of the independence of Donbass and Luhansk, demands which Zelensky has declared unacceptable and which violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity” .
Zelensky had expressed hope that negotiations with Moscow were progressing. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said the parties were “close to an agreement”.
However, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said The temperature she feared that these negotiations were merely a “smokescreen” and could allow exhausted Russian forces to regroup and then intensify their attacks.
Michal Baranowski, director of the Warsaw office of the German Marshall Fund, said the bombing of Lviv in western Ukraine on Friday showed that Moscow had no intention of easing its campaign, whatever is how he described the negotiations.
“The Russian Foreign Ministry is providing diplomatic cover, or maybe even a change of hands, for Russia’s escalation,” he said. Newsweek. “The end of this war will first be negotiated on the battlefield. Only then will Russia and Ukraine be prepared to make the difficult compromises necessary to stop the bloodshed.”
“The main measure of President Zelensky’s success is whether Ukraine’s sovereignty and security are preserved and guaranteed. For that to happen, Russia must first defuse,” he said. “Unfortunately, we find that the opposite is happening.”
On Saturday, Zelensky made another appeal to Russia for talks and warned that its mounting troop losses would eventually be so great that the country would not recover for “several generations”.
Recognizing Crimea as Russian, vowing not to join NATO and accepting neutrality could be concessions Zelensky could make that could be offset by the symbolism of clinging to the Ukrainian capital.
However, Peter Rutland of Wesleyan University said, “Even if kyiv fell to the Russians, that wouldn’t be the end of the war. After all, Napoleon took Moscow in 1812 and look what happened to him.”
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