Suggestion by top official that Kyiv could cede territory is angrily dismissed on a day of further casualties to Russian missile strikes
ByNataliya Vasilyeva, RUSSIA CORRESPONDENT.
15 August 2023 • 8:49pm
Ukraine has angrily dismissed a suggestion from a top Nato official that it may have to cede some of its territory to Russia in order to join the Western alliance.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Volodomry Zelensky, denounced the idea put forward by Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg’s chief of staff as “ridiculous”.
“That means deliberately choosing the defeat of democracy, encouraging a global criminal, preserving the Russian regime, destroying international law, and passing the war on to other generations,” Mr Podolyak said in a post on Twitter on Tuesday.
“Obviously, if Putin does not suffer a crushing defeat, the political regime in Russia does not change, and war criminals are not punished, the war will definitely return with Russia’s appetite for more.”
Mr Podolyak’s remarks came after Stian Jenssen suggested Ukraine might be required to cede landto broker a peace and become a Nato member state.
“I’m not saying it has to be like this,” he told Norwegian newspaper VG. “But that could be a possible solution.”
Ukraine has made it clear that it intends to claw back all territory captured by Russian forces and will not engage in any negotiations on giving up territory to Moscow.
The row came after Russian “high-precision” missiles struck western regions of Ukraine that border Nato member Poland overnight on Monday, killing several people and wounding more than a dozen.
The attacks were reported by local media to be the largest air assault on the Lviv region since Russia launched its invasion, with neighbouring Lutsk also hit.
The missiles struck just hours before Vladimir Putin addressed officials from allied countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa who had gathered near Moscow for a security conference.
The Russian president, under pressure from new rampant inflation figures, accused the West of fuelling the war in Ukraine by pumping billions of dollars, and weapons into Ukraine.
“Everything is being done to ignite the conflict even more, to draw other states into it,” Putin said.
Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister also addressed the conference, saying Ukraine’s counteroffensive efforts were faltering and claiming that Kyiv’s “military resources are almost exhausted” despite Western backing.
Ukraine said on Monday that its counteroffensive had registered “some success” in pushing back Moscow’s forces in the country’s southeast.
Ukrainian troops had pushed forward around the village of Staromaiorske, around 60 miles southwest of Russian-held Donetsk, and were pressing on two fronts in the south, Hanna Maliar, the deputy defence minister, said.
There was evidence that Ukraine appeared to have deployed Western-trained military units to the front lines in an attempt to further the counteroffensive’s progress, having previously held several units back.
The 46th Airmobile Brigade and the 82nd Air Assault Brigade both posted videos on their social media accounts showing drone strikes around the southeastern region of Zaporizhizhia.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Latvia ordered its army to help guard its border with Russian ally Belarus amid mounting concerns over the presence of the Kremlin-affiliated Wagner group there.
Latvia’s defence minister said there had been nearly 100 attempted crossings by illegal immigrants from Belarus in the previous 24 hours.
Eastern EU member states, including Poland, have previously warned that the Wagner mercenaries could pose as migrants and attempt to enter the bloc in a form of “hybrid warfare”.
Poland is planning to move up to 10,000 additional troops to its own border with Belarus and on Tuesday held its biggest military parade since the Cold War ended.
The flex of military muscle in the Polish capital marked the 103rd anniversary of Poland’s victory over the Soviet Union in the Battle of Warsaw. It featured some 2,000 soldiers, as well as hundreds of items of military equipment and dozens of aircraft.
“August 15 is not only an opportunity to pay homage to the heroes of the victorious Battle of Warsaw and to thank contemporary soldiers for defending our homeland,” Mariusz Blaszczak, the defence minister, told troops and onlookers who had gathered near the Vistula river.
“It is also a perfect day to show our strength, to show that we have built powerful armed forces that will effectively defend our borders without hesitation.”
In Lyiv, civilians and emergency responders dealt with the devastation unleashed by Russia’s latest missile barrage.
One missile landed in the yard of a kindergarten, leaving a massive crater between the building and a high-rise residential tower nearby.
Standing in the kindergarten’s courtyard, Andriy Sadovy, the city’s mayor, accused Moscow of targeting civilians.
“Our kindergarten’s outdoor pavilion was right here: A missile hit right in the middle of this pavilion,” he said in a video posted on social media.
“There’s a now nine-metre deep crater here. Thank God no one was killed here.”
At least 19 people were reported injured in the city and its suburbs. The youngest of the victims was aged 10.
In Lutsk, three people were reported to have been killed and another three injured during a strike on a ball-bearing factory owned by Swedish company SKF.
Two people were killed and five others were injured in separate strikes on Ukrainian-controlled parts of the eastern Donetsk region where Russian forces shelled the outskirts of Kramatorsk and Bakhmut. One more person was reported to have been killed in the northeastern region of Kharkiv.
On Tuesday the Russian military denied there were any civilian casualties and insisted its “high-precision” strikes were aimed at, and hit, military targets.
A top Ukrainian official described the attacks as an example of how Western nations are failing to stop Russia’s military industrial complex.
Andriy Yermak, Mr Zelensky’s chief of staff, said several of the missiles that hit Ukraine were produced as recently as April.
He called on tougher sanctions on Russia “so that it will not be able to get access to critical components and manufacture missiles”.