Ukraine's Zelenskiy Says 'No Other Choice' Than To Talk To Russia, As Bucha Anger Rises
By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service April 05, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says there is "no other choice" than to negotiate an end to the war with Russia, even if it's difficult to do amid signs that Russian forces may have committed atrocities against civilians that have sparked widespread condemnation and calls for war crimes investigations.
Speaking in an interview with Ukrainian journalists that was broadcast on state television on April 5, Zelenskiy called the events in Bucha "unforgiveable," and that "all of us, including myself, will perceive even the possibility of negotiations as a challenge."
"The challenge is internal, first of all, one's own human challenge. Then, when you pull yourself together, and you have to do it, I think that we have no other choice," he added.
The interview comes a day after Zelenskiy made an emotional trip to Bucha outside the capital, where Ukrainian officials say the bodies of civilians have been found, many of them shot in yards, streets, and homes.
In a video address on April 5 to the UN Security Council, Zelenskiy urged the council to expel Russia and to seek full accountability for war crimes committed in Ukraine.
Horrific images of corpses left in the open, some with their hands bound behind them, have drawn international condemnation of Russia, which has denied the allegations, calling them "fake."
But satellite images taken in mid-March and released by the firm Maxar Technologies appear to show bodies lying in the streets of Bucha, potentially rebutting claims by Russia that the deaths occurred after its withdrawal from the town by March 30.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Moscow of waging a "deliberate campaign" of atrocities in Bucha.
"What we've seen in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit," Blinken told reporters on April 5 before departing for a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels. "It's a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities. The reports are more than credible. The evidence is there for the world to see."
Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said the killings -- which he estimated at around 300 civilians -- were "revenge for the Ukrainian resistance."
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the pictures of mass graves and streets littered with the corpses of civilians revealed an "unbearable brutality Europe has not witnessed in many decades" and that he feared "more atrocities" are still to be discovered in Ukraine.
Russian and Ukrainian delegations continue intensive peace talks despite the furor over the allegations.
Responding to Zelenskiy's comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow didn't rule out the possibility of a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents as Zelenskiy has sought. However, Peskov said such a meeting is only likely once a document has been agreed by the two sides.
Negotiators from Ukraine and Russia are expected to continue talks on solving the crisis via video link on April 5.
Zelenskiy has said that Ukraine offered to become an officially neutral state that would have security guarantees from other countries.
In the April 5 interview, he noted that Ukraine did not yet have a hard list of countries ready to provide the security guarantees, though talks continue.
"Different countries are ready to guarantee different things," he said.
"So far, we have not received a list of countries that are ready to join us 100 percent. We need serious players. We need a circle of countries that are ready to provide necessary weapons within 24 hours. We need sanctions to be developed in advance and the second we feel threatened by the Russian Federation, these states need to be united and introduce everything needed immediately," he said.
Two of the European Union's top diplomats will travel to Kyiv as the bloc looks to show its support for Ukraine amid Russia's unprovoked invasion.
European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said on Twitter on April 5 that commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will make the trip sometime ahead of the Stand Up For Ukraine event in the Polish capital, Warsaw, on April 9.
The trip will be the second high-level visit by EU officials to Kyiv after European Parliament President Roberta Metsola went to Ukraine last week.
In response to the Bucha reports and to Russia's continued unprovoked war against Ukraine, the European Union's executive branch on April 5 proposed a ban on coal imports from Russia. If adopted, they would be the first sanctions targeting the country's lucrative energy industry.
Von der Leyen said the bloc -- which imports about $4.5 billion worth of Russian coal annually -- needed to ratchet up the pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin after what she described as the "heinous crimes" carried out around Kyiv.
She added that oil imports may also be targeted, though such a move has been hotly debated around the 27-member bloc, as some members are more reliant than others on Russian crude supplies.
Several European countries also responded to the war on April 5 by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats.
Denmark, Sweden, Italy, and Spain all said they had given notice to Moscow that diplomats at their embassies were now personae non grata. Latvia and Estonia went a step further, each ordering the closure of two Russian consulates in their countries.
With reporting by AP and AFP
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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