BALI, Indonesia — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday called on G20 leaders not to offer his country any peace deal that would compromise its independence from Russia, amid recently renewed contact between Washington and Moscow over the future of the war.
Zelenskyy appeared at the Bali summit via videolink at the invitation of the Indonesian hosts, just days after Ukraine liberated Kherson from invading Russian forces — a feat he compared to the D-Day landing of allied troops in Normandy, a key turning point of World War II.
“For Ukraine, this liberation operation of our defense forces is reminiscent of many battles of the past, which became turning points in the wars of the past,” Zelenskyy said in his speech to world leaders, among them U.S. President Joe Biden — and, according to a Western diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “It is like, for example, D-Day — the landing of the allies in Normandy.”
Pointedly addressing his comments to the “dear G19” — the leaders of the Group of 20, with a snub to Russia — Zelenskyy warned against making Ukraine weaker than it was before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the full-scale invasion in February.
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“I want this aggressive Russian war to end justly and on the basis of the U.N. Charter and international law,” Zelenskyy said in his speech, the content of which was leaked to POLITICO. “Ukraine should not be offered to conclude compromises with its conscience, sovereignty, territory and independence. We respect the rules and we are people of our word.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin was invited to the summit in Bali but last week decided not to attend, sending Lavrov instead.
In his speech on Tuesday, Zelenskyy rejected any negotiations like those Kyiv held with Moscow in previous years, after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, before seizing, via proxies, territory in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
“Apparently, one cannot trust Russia’s words, and there will be no Minsk 3, which Russia would violate immediately after signing,” Zelenskyy said, referring to the Minsk 1 and 2 agreements, signed in 2014 and 2015 and mediated by the leaders of France and Germany in the so-called Normandy Format, which were intended to bring an end to the war at that time.
Zelenskyy’s speech to the G20 came on the same day Chinese President Xi Jinping asked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to work toward negotiated peace for Ukraine.
According to the Chinese state media Xinhua, Xi “emphasized that China’s position on the Ukrainian crisis is clear and consistent, advocating ceasefire, cessation of war and peace talks. The international community should create conditions for this, and China will continue to play a constructive role in its own way.”
Nevertheless, Zelenskyy thanked countries including China for rejecting Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons.
Slamming the “crazy threats of nuclear weapons,” the Ukrainian president added: “There are and cannot be any excuses for nuclear blackmail. And I thank you, dear G19, for making this clear.”
Bill Burns, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, met his Russian counterpart Sergei Naryshkin in Turkey on Monday and warned Moscow against using nuclear weapons, according to the White House.
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