One of the top negotiators representing Ukraine in the stalled peace talks with Russia has called for the word ‘Russians’ to be erased from people’s memory in the regions in the east and south under Moscow’s control, once they are retaken by Kiev.
Speaking to Ukraine’s ICTV on Thursday, Mikhail Podoliak, an adviser to the head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine, said that Ukraine’s principal priority at this point is “liberating, and doing so in as tough a manner as possible with respect to collaborators as well as Russian troops,” Kherson Region and Zaporozhye Region in the south of Ukraine. Retaking the areas would help Kiev regain access to the Sea of Azov, something Ukraine “definitely needs,” according to the adviser.
Podoliak went on to say that he wants the word ‘Russians’ to be forgotten and consigned to history in Kharkov Region – which borders Russia, and where Kiev is mounting a counter-offensive – as well as in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, which were recognized as independent by Moscow in late February. He added that, assuming the Ukrainian military retakes Donbass, he wants “all these criminal elements calling themselves the authorities there [to] be gone, physically gone.”