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Ukraine may have to compromise with Russia – Stoltenberg

Ukraine may ultimately have to agree to some kind of compromise with Russia to end the conflict, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said.

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In an interview with the BBC published on Saturday, the NATO chief reiterated that the West must support Ukraine in the long term “even if we believe and hope that the war will end in the near future.” He added that Western countries should invest in Kiev’s defense capabilities to make it more resilient in the event of future hostilities.

At the same time, he signaled that it was up to Ukraine to choose when and under what conditions to seek peace with Russia. “At the end of the day, it has to be Ukraine that decides what kind of compromises they’re willing to do,” Stoltenberg said, adding that the West’s role is to help Kiev reach a negotiating position that could produce an “acceptable result.”

That said, Stoltenberg emphasized that he was not pushing Kiev toward any concessions, adding that “real peace” can only be achieved with a Ukrainian victory.

Earlier this week, the NATO boss made a strong plea to support Kiev in the long term, urging the bloc’s members to “rely less on voluntary contributions and more on NATO commitments.” According to several reports, Stoltenberg proposed a five-year €100 billion ($107 billion) military aid package to Ukraine. The exact details of the initiative are reportedly now under discussion.

Throughout the conflict, Russia has maintained that it is open to talks with Ukraine. However, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky banned any negotiations with the current leadership in Moscow after four former Ukrainian territories overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in the autumn of 2022.

The Ukrainian leader has been advicating a ten-point ‘peace formula’ demanding that Moscow withdraw its troops from territory Kiev claims as its own, as well as for a tribunal to be established to prosecute Russian officials for alleged war crimes. Moscow has dismissed the initiative as “detached from reality.”

In an interview with Politico on Saturday, Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andrey Yermak, claimed that while Ukrainians were tired of the conflict, they would vehemently oppose any compromise with Russia.

However, last month Zelensky suggested that a return to Ukraine’s 1991 borders was no longer a precondition for negotiations with Russia. Nevertheless, he still insisted that Kiev must regain the territory it lost to Moscow in 2022.

Moscow has said Ukraine must take into account the fact that its borders have changed drastically since the start of the hostilities.

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