Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy says “fair peace” can only happen with the “complete destruction of Russian aggression.”
Russia is seeking a “short truce” – a proposal Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vehemently rejected on the grounds that it would allow Moscow’s troops to regain strength after a series of battlefield defeats.
Officials in Russia have repeatedly said they are willing to enter into peace talks without preconditions, but it is not clear whether they have made a formal ceasefire offer, as Zelenskyy mentioned on Friday.
“Russia is now looking for a short ceasefire, a respite to regain strength. Someone may call this the end of the war, but such a delay will only exacerbate the situation,” the Ukrainian leader said.
“A truly genuine, long-lasting and fair peace can only be the result of the complete breakdown of Russian aggression.”
The United States has said only Zelenskyy can decide when to open peace talks with Russia, rejecting the idea that it pressured Kiev to negotiate an end to the nearly nine-month war sparked by Moscow’s invasion.
General Mark Milley, the top US military officer, said this week that while Ukraine has achieved significant battlefield successes, Moscow still controls 20 percent of the country and Kiev’s troops are unlikely to overtake the Russians anytime soon. will expel.
Ukraine regained control of the strategic important city of Kherson last week in the South. It had been occupied by Russian troops since the start of the war in late February.
Kherson marked the third major counter-offensive after Ukrainian forces pushed back Russian forces near Kiev in April and recaptured large swaths of territory in the northeast in September.
Zelensky said Monday “Detectives have already documented more than 400 Russian war crimes” in Kherson.
The Conflict Observatory, a war crimes research group under Yale University’s School of Public Health, said it documented 226 extrajudicial detentions and enforced disappearances in the southern city. About a quarter of that number were said to have been subjected to torture and four died in custody.
Most of the arrests and disappearances were carried out by the Russian army and FSB security agencyand half of those seized “do not appear to have been released,” the Conflict Observatory said in a report Friday.
Military-aged men — including government officials, civil society leaders, teachers, law enforcement officers and journalists — made up a large portion of those arrested and missing.
“These findings highlight a range of alarming allegations about the treatment of detainees, including allegations of deaths in custody; the widespread use of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment… [and] sexual and gender-based violence,” the report said.
It quoted sources as saying that after taking Kherson in March, the Russians arrived with lists of names and license plate numbers, targeting people they believed could resist their presence.
Crimean Tatars were also targeted and many were accused of belonging to what Russia calls a Tatar “terrorist” group.
The Conflict Observatory said that while some of the prisoners were released, “many others are still in detention or missing, their fate unknown to their families” since Russian troops withdrew from the city of Kherson.