Kyiv blasts rogue Nato aide for suggesting Ukraine surrender land to Russia

Kyiv blasts rogue Nato aide for suggesting Ukraine surrender land to Russia

Kyiv blasts rogue Nato aide for suggesting Ukraine surrender land to Russia

Sam Montgomery

By Sam Montgomery

Published: 16/08/2023

- 22:58

Stoltenberg’s chief of staff wades in to set out parameters for Ukraine Nato membership

Kyiv has dismissed and discredited a Nato aide for suggesting that Ukraine hand over territory to Russia as an appeasement to end the war.

Stian Jenssen, chief of staff to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, proposed Ukraine surrender part of its territory to Russia in return for an invitation to join the western military alliance.

Speaking at a conference in Norway, Jenssen said: “I think that solution could be for Ukraine to give up territory and get Nato membership in return.

“There is significant movement in the question of future Nato membership for Ukraine. It is in everyone’s interest that the war does not repeat itself.

Firefighters work to douse a fire at a shopping mall destroyed during a Russian military strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine in Odesa, Ukraine in this screengrab from a video released August 14, 2023.

State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS

“Russia is struggling enormously militarily and it seems unrealistic that they can take new territories.

“Now it is rather a question of what Ukraine manages to take back.”

Unconvinced by Jenssen’s proposal, a Ukraine foreign ministry spokesman, Oleh Nikolenko, branded the sentiment as “ridiculous”, “absolutely unacceptable” and playing into Russia’s hands.

He added: “We have always assumed that the alliance, like Ukraine, does not trade territories.”

Secretary General of NATO and former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg attends the commemoration at the memorial site in front of Hoyblokka in the Government Quarter, 12 years after the terrorist attack on 22 July 2011, in Oslo, 2023.

NTB/Tor Erik Schroder via REUTERS

Likewise, Nato acted quickly to detach itself from Jenssen’s stance and instead reiterated its official position on the conflict.

“We will continue to support Ukraine as long as necessary and we are committed to achieving a just and lasting peace,” a spokesperson said.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, said that surrendering land for a ceasefire would only lead to the “bad peace” of allowing Russia to regroup and gather reinforcements.

Podolyak wrote online: “It is ridiculous. [This would mean] choosing the defeat of democracy, encouraging a global criminal, preserving the Russian regime, destroying international law and passing the war on to other generations.”

A man walks past a building, which was destroyed in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in Mariupol, Russian-controlled Ukraine, August 16, 2023.

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian prime minister and now deputy head of the country’s security council, described the prospect of a deal as “interesting”, but said Moscow would only sit down at the negotiating table if Ukraine surrendered Kyiv.

Moscow senses blood in the water from ripples of discontent spreading through Europe at the perceived lack of progress made by Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Kyiv has acknowledged that it holds little hope of the counteroffensive succeeding before the new year.

Tempering expectations, Iryna Vereshchuk, a Ukrainian deputy prime minister, wrote on messaging app Telegram: “We have to be honest: in this war, the road to victory will be long and hard.


Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visits a frontline, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine August 15, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

“Two to three weeks, by the end of the year, next spring — none of this is true. We have to get ready for a long fight. Everyone should prepare for a long and hard war. And only then will we win.

“We are preparing for a marathon, not a sprint.”

Keeping his cards close to his chest, frustratingly so for Kyiv, Jens Stoltenberg, has only mooted that Ukraine would one day be invited to join Nato.

Though more bullish about Ukraine’s membership, President Biden has also said that it would be “premature” to enlist Ukraine while it is at war with Russia.

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