President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told world leaders that the time to end Russia’s war in Ukraine is “now” and called for the extension of a grain-export deal due to expire shortly, as heavy fighting continues in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
“I am convinced that now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped,” Zelenskiy said in a video address to the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Bali, Indonesia, on November 15.
“It will save thousands of lives,” he said.
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But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the highest-ranking Russian official present at the G20 summit, said Kyiv’s conditions for restarting talks with Moscow were “unrealistic.”
“All problems are with the Ukrainian side, which is categorically refusing negotiations and putting forward conditions that are obviously unrealistic,” Lavrov told reporters on November 15.
Lavrov also accused Western countries of trying to “politicize” a joint declaration at the summit.
A draft declaration by G20 leaders seen by Reuters said “most” members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine.
“Yes, our Western colleagues tried in every way to make that declaration politicized and tried to push through language that implied condemning the actions of the Russian Federation on behalf of the entire G20, which includes us,” Lavrov said.
“But let’s do this in a fair way and let’s make it clear that, on this topic, we have differences,” Lavrov said.
In his video address, Zelenskiy ruled out a “Minsk 3 agreement,” a reference to two failed cease-fire deals between Kyiv and Moscow in 2014 and 2015 over the status of the eastern Donbas region.
“We will not allow Russia to wait, build up its forces, and then start a new series of terror and global destabilization. There will be no Minsk 3, which Russia will violate immediately after the agreement,” Zelenskiy said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov shortly afterward said Zelenskiy’s comments confirmed that Kyiv is not interested in holding peace talks with Moscow.
Zelenskiy urged Moscow to withdraw all its forces from Ukraine and reaffirm Ukraine’s territorial integrity, warning that Kyiv would not compromise its sovereignty, territory, or independence. He also called for all Ukrainian prisoners to be released.
Zelenskiy outlined several approaches to achieve peace, including ensuring nuclear and food safety, the ending of hostilities, and a prevention of escalation.
He blasted “the crazy threats of nuclear weapons that Russian officials resort to,” referring to rhetoric employed repeatedly by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Zelenskiy thanked the “G19,” pointedly excluding Russia, for making clear that “there cannot be any excuses for nuclear blackmail.”
Putin has shunned the gathering and sent Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Bali in his place.
A deal struck in July between the United Nations and Russia that allows the export of Ukrainian grains and other food products from ports blocked by Russian warships is due to expire on November 19.
Zelenskiy said the deal, which according to the UN has allowed the export of 10 million tons of grain and other food, should be extended indefinitely.
“I believe our export grain initiative deserves an indefinite extension — no matter when the war ends,” Zelensky said.
“The right to food is a fundamental right of every person in the world,” he said, proposing to expand the deal to more Ukrainian ports.
Zelenskiy accused Moscow of an “attempt to turn the cold into a weapon” by launching waves of air strikes against key infrastructure ahead of the coming winter.
He also spoke in favor of a U.S.-led push for a price cap on Russian oil exports “so that energy resources are no longer used as weapons.”
The Ukrainian military reported early on November 15 that its forces repelled waves of Russian attacks on positions in the Donetsk region, including Bakhmut and Belohoryivka, and on Novoselivske in Luhansk.
According to Ukraine’s General Staff, the Russian military is accommodating recently arrived reinforcements in abandoned private houses in Luhansk.
The General Staff had previously said that in Luhansk, occupying Russian forces plan to carry out a complete evacuation of the civilian population from three settlements.
The Russian Army is also trying to hold captured territories and continues to equip defensive lines on the left bank of the Dnieper River in the Kherson region, the military said.
In the parts of Kherson region recaptured by the Ukrainian Army over the past week, Russia has destroyed “all critical infrastructure,” Zelenskiy said in his regular nightly address on November 14.
Zelenskiy said there is no electricity, no communication, and no television in Kherson, saying the withdrawing Russian troops destroyed everything intentionally.
Earlier on November 14, Ukrainian national energy company Ukrenerho said Russia had destroyed key energy infrastructure supplying the entire right bank of the Kherson region and a significant part of the Mykolayiv region.
“Most of the liberated Kherson region has been without electricity since November 6,” Ukrenerho chief Volodymyr Kudrytskiy said. “We are doing our best to supply people with electricity as soon as possible.”
Ukrainian commander-in-chief Valeriy Zaluzhniy said he spoke with U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on November 14 and told him that the Ukrainian military will not accept any negotiations, agreements, or compromise decisions regarding the end of the war.
“I assured that we will fight as long as we have the strength. Our goal is to liberate all Ukrainian land from Russian occupation,” Zaluzhniy said on Facebook. “There is only one condition for the negotiations: Russia must leave all captured territories.”