Ukraine warns that it “will not accept” concessions to Russia

Kyiv, Ucrania (CNN) — Ukraine “will not allow anyone to impose any concessions on us” as part of efforts to de-escalate the threat of conflict with Russia, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

Kuleba stressed that the country will not accept any compromise aimed at placating Russian President Vladimir Putin amid fears that Russia may be planning to invade Ukraine, something Moscow denies.

“If someone makes a concession on Ukraine, behind Ukraine’s back, first of all, we will not accept it. We will not be in the position of the country that picks up the phone, listens to the instruction of the great power and follows it,” Kuleba said.

“We have paid a lot — including 15,000 lives of our citizens — to ensure the right to decide our own future, our own destiny,” he insisted.

Ukraine has warned that Russia is trying to destabilize the country ahead of any planned military invasion. Western powers have repeatedly warned Russia not to take further aggressive action against Ukraine.

The Kremlin denies it is planning to attack and argues that NATO’s support for Ukraine — including increased arms supplies and military training — constitutes a growing threat on Russia’s western flank.

NATO strengthens presence in Eastern Europe 0:58

Kuleba said he has no doubts about the US commitment to defending his country, despite comments from President Joe Biden suggesting a “minor incursion” by Russian troops might not provoke a harsh response from the military alliance. of NATO.

“First of all, President Biden is personally committed to Ukraine. He knows this country and he doesn’t want Russia to destroy it,” Kuleba said.

“Secondly, we have heard from those American officials, speaking openly to the media, but also speaking to me and other Ukrainian officials directly on the phone, that the United States will remain absolutely committed to hitting Russia if any kind of incursion occurs. , invasion, interference,” he added.

Vladimir Putin “has shot himself in the foot”

Kuleba also claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin “has shot himself in the foot” by deploying troops to Ukraine’s borders, adding that there is very little Moscow can gain from the current situation to save face.

“Regardless of what President Putin does in the next few weeks, he has already shot himself in the foot,” Kuleba told CNN’s Clarissa Ward in an exclusive interview in Kyiv on Tuesday. “Now his only advantage in turning the situation in Ukraine in his favor is over what? Massing 100,000 troops along the border and launching cyberattacks. This fact speaks for itself.”

“He put himself in this situation, no one else pushed him into that dead end,” Kuleba explained. “The set of demands put forward by Russia is designed in such a way that if Russia is willing to act in good faith, there is a chance to walk out of the negotiating room and say we have made a deal.”

“Keeping in mind that things like reviewing NATO’s decision on the prospects for Ukraine and Georgia is not a start, that NATO’s withdrawal from Central Europe’s infrastructure is not a start, everything else is feasible, it is manageable. There is a space for diplomacy,” he concluded.