Talks to end the invasion of Ukraine are futile as Russian troops ramp up war crimes by bombing defenseless civilians, many Western countries accuse.
The United States notably asserted on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had no intention of ending the military offensive launched three weeks ago and that he was obviously negotiating in bad faith.
“The actions that we see Russia committing every day, virtually every minute of every day, are in complete contradiction to any serious diplomatic effort to end the war,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. .
A series of attacks affecting schools, hospitals and a theater in the city of Mariupol where hundreds of people had taken refuge indicate that Moscow is “intentionally” seeking to cause civilian victims, accused Mr. Blinken.
France is also of the opinion that the Kremlin is playing a double game. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the daily the Parisian that the Russian president was “pretending to negotiate” using a strategy proven in the past in Chechnya and Syria.
[Cette approche prévoit] indiscriminate bombardments, so-called humanitarian “corridors” designed to then accuse the adversary of not respecting them and talks with no other objective than to pretend to negotiate.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic
Russia assures for its part that it invests a “colossal” energy to try to reach a negotiated solution and prides itself on being better intentioned on this subject than the Ukrainian government.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who leads the country’s negotiating team, said technical progress had been made, but any real progress would require Russia to agree to a ceasefire -fire.
Many media have indicated that discussions are underway, in particular about the future “neutrality” of Ukraine, an ill-defined concept which serves as a “smokescreen” for the real demands of Russia, underlines Dominique Arel, specialist of Ukraine attached to the University of Ottawa.
According to the researcher, the term “neutrality” means, in Vladimir Putin’s “alternative reality”, that Ukraine should not only remain outside NATO, but also deprive itself of all support from NATO member countries. military alliance to ensure its defense in the future, an unacceptable avenue for Kyiv”.
The talks will not yield results in the short term since Russia “does not feel weakened enough to sit down and negotiate” and prefers to intensify its strikes, including against civilians, in the hope of coaxing the Ukrainian government, notes Mr. Arel.
More help needed
The United Nations estimates that at least 726 civilians, including 52 children, have been killed so far and warns that the true total is likely much higher.
On Thursday, Russian fire killed at least 27 people Thursday in Merefa, in the Kharkiv region, in the northeast of the country, further increasing the toll.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continues to call for increased help from Western countries to “stop the war”, increasing his interventions by videoconference before elected officials.
He addressed the elected members of the Bundestag in Germany on Thursday, in the hope in particular of obtaining the development of a no-fly zone, categorically excluded by NATO, additional weapons and an intensification of economic sanctions. against Russia.
The United States announced Wednesday its intention to improve its military aid to Kyiv, in particular with the transfer of anti-aircraft defense systems likely to help the Ukrainian forces to counter the action of the Russian air force.
Washington is also stepping up its diplomatic offensive to help further isolate Russia, which is economically weakened by a series of sanctions that have notably made it possible to freeze part of the assets of the Russian central bank.
Much attention is paid to China and to President Xi Jinping, who just before the Olympics had signed a long joint declaration with Vladimir Putin evoking “boundless friendship” between the two countries.
US President Joe Biden is due to speak with his Chinese counterpart on Friday and warn him that any aid offered to Moscow in connection with the Ukrainian conflict risks leading to sanctions. US intelligence services say Beijing is said to be ready to offer weapons to the Russian regime, which denies having made such a request.
Frédéric Lasserre, a specialist in Asia attached to Laval University, points out that it would be surprising if the Chinese government made such a gesture at this stage since it would risk “further degrading its relations with Western countries” and harming to its economic interests.
Xi Jinping, says the researcher, wants to maintain his ties with Vladimir Putin and therefore refuses to condemn him for the invasion of Ukraine. But he also wants to preserve reasonably good relations with the United States and Europe to support his development projects, including the “New Silk Roads”, a major infrastructure project.
Washington’s warnings are officially greeted with hostility by the representatives of China, who believe they have no lesson in good conduct to receive.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian appeared to blame the United States on Thursday for the Ukraine crisis, recalling that countries that have backed NATO’s eastward territorial expansion “should really feel uncomfortable” in the current situation.
He also mocked the extent of the sanctions applied against Russia by launching that “even the cats, dogs and trees” of the country were targeted.
These public interventions aim to mean loud and clear that “the country is completely sovereign” and sets its policy towards Ukraine independently of what the United States wishes, notes Mr. Lasserre, who underlines the delicate nature of the American diplomatic efforts.
“The more they will pressure China not to deliver weapons to Russia, the more they will encourage it to do so,” he warns.
- Over 3 million
- Number of Ukrainians who took the roads of exile, the vast majority to Poland
Source: Agence France-Presse
- Number of children killed in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion
Source: Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office
- Number of Russian soldiers who died on the battlefield in three weeks, according to US intelligence estimates
Source: The New York Times
- Proportion of Mariupol’s housing stock that has been destroyed. The situation is “critical” with “uninterrupted” Russian bombardments and “colossal” destruction.
Source: Mariupol City Hall estimates