KYIV — There will be no peace talks between Ukraine and Russia as long as Vladimir Putin remains Russian leader, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday night.
“This is clear and obvious,” Zelenskyy added in his nightly address to the nation, after sham referendums were held in Ukrainian regions in a bid by Putin to annex more Ukrainian territory.
On Tuesday, Russian authorities and their proxies in four partly occupied Ukrainian regions — eastern Donetsk and Luhansk, and southern Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — announced the results of the five-day unrecognized referendums on joining Russia.
According to the numbers they put forward, in a Moscow-orchestrated vote which was illegal according to Ukrainian laws and strongly condemned by Western nations, huge majorities of voters in all regions backed joining Russia.
Zelenskyy said Russia’s attempts to annex new Ukrainian territories were a “Crimea scenario,” referring to the Moscow-initiated referendum on the peninsula joining Russia in 2014, which has never been recognized by Kyiv or its Western backers.
“Russia’s implementation of the so-called Crimean scenario and another attempt to annex Ukrainian territory will mean that there is nothing to talk about with this President of Russia,” he said.
“We knew in advance what would be drawn instead of the true result. Even our intelligence didn’t have to work very hard,” Zelenskyy added. “The agreed figures for this farce had been thrown into the media. Russia is not even hiding.”
According to Zelenskyy, the West should meet Putin’s escalation with defense, financial and sanctions support for Ukraine.
The Russia Federation plans to swiftly incorporate the four occupied Ukrainian regions. According to the Kremlin, once that happens, Kyiv’s attempts to retake them will be considered by Moscow as an attack on Russia itself, which has triggered speculation about the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons in retaliation.
On Tuesday, the U.K. defense ministry said that Putin is scheduled to address both houses of the Russian parliament on Friday. “There is a realistic possibility that Putin will use his address to formally announce the accession of the occupied regions of Ukraine to Russia,” the ministry said.
The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not confirm Putin’s address on Friday.