Mihailo Podoliak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on Tuesday firmly rejected the option given to his country of accepting the surrender of Russian-occupied territory in exchange for NATO membership, a senior NATO official said.
In a social media post, Podoliak called the proposal “ridiculous.” “This means deliberately choosing to defeat democracy, encouraging a global criminal, preserving the Russian regime, destroying international law and passing the war to other generations,” the Ukrainian official told Western leaders.
He stressed the need for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be punished for war crimes. Otherwise, he will provoke new conflicts, Podoliak warned. “Unless Putin suffers a crushing defeat, the political regime in Russia changes and war criminals are punished, war will surely return with Russia’s appetite for more,” Zelensky’s adviser added.
“Attempts to preserve world order and establish a bad peace by, let’s be honest, Putin’s triumph will not bring peace to the world, but will bring both dishonor and war. This applies to any format of a new ‘division of Europe,’ including under the NATO umbrella. So why propose the freeze scenario, so desired by Russia, instead of speeding up arms supplies? Killers should not be encouraged by terrible indulgences,” said Podoliak.
Stian Jenssen, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s chief of staff, spoke to the Norwegian press on Tuesday as well. Stoltenberg has so far cautiously avoided questions about what Ukraine should do to end the war. The NATO chief has consistently replied that the decision on whether to start negotiations with Russia belongs to Ukraine alone, not to third countries.
Asked by journalists from the Norwegian newspaper VG whether Ukraine has to give up land in order to achieve peace and NATO membership, Jenssen suggested that the issue had already been discussed within the alliance.
“I’m not saying it has to be that way, but it could be a possible solution,” he added.