Three European defense ministers oppose pressuring Ukraine into talks with Russia

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Ministers of defense of three European countries stated that Ukraine should feel no pressure to enter any peace negotiations with Russia, The Guardian reports.

Speaking at the 10 country Joint Expeditionary Forum in Edinburgh on 10 November, the UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said that it was for Ukraine to decide whether it wanted to have any peace negotiations and that it was for western powers to help Ukraine “fight for its right to choose” without “a gun to its head from the Kremlin” at a press conference after the meeting of northern European nations.

“We want Ukraine to be able to discuss or resolve this issue from a position of strength, not a position of weakness. And that is the current direction of travel,” he said.

Kajsa Ollongren, the Dutch defence minister, agreed with Wallace, stating that it’s important that Ukraine can count on western support and that Ukraine was winning with the help of training provided by western countries. She said that for Ukraine the war was existential and so it was necessary for it to carry on fighting against the Russian invasion. “If Russia stops fighting the war ends, but if Ukraine stops fighting there is no Ukraine any more,” Ollongren said.

Artis Pabriks, Latvia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister, stated that Russian offers of peace talks are hardly genuine if “at the same time they are bombing civilians” and that it was Russia that “was responsible” for the war as a whole, he said. It was not incumbent on Kyiv to seek to halt the fighting in the current circumstances, he argued.

This comes amid reports that some western officials see avenues for “diplomacy” ahead of winter and the US top general Mark Milley saying that there may be a window of opportunity to negotiate an end to the conflict if the front lines stabilize during winter, and US national security adviser Jake Sullivan reportedly coming to an unannoucned visit to Kyiv to “test the waters” on whether the end of the conflict could include a diplomatic solution.

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