Ukraine’s chief negotiator in peace talks with Russia says there is no use in seeking out an agreement with Moscow, which has been conducting a military operation in the ex-Soviet republic, saying it can only be stopped by force.
"Any agreement with Russia isn't worth a broken penny," Mykhailo Podolyak, who is also an aide to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote on the Telegram messaging app on Saturday.
"Is it possible to negotiate with a country that always lies cynically and propagandistically?" he asked.
"Russia has proved that it is a barbarian country that threatens world security," Podolyak alleged, claiming, "A barbarian can only be stopped by force."
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced the operation in February in order to allegedly “demilitarize” the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine, which together form the Donbas region. In 2014, the two regions declared themselves new republics, refusing to recognize Ukraine’s Western-backed government.
Ordering the operation, Putin said the mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years were suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”
The Ukrainian negotiator’s remarks contradicted even those made by Zelensky, who has advocated talks with Putin, saying Putin is the only person worth talking to, since he makes all the decisions.
"It doesn't matter what their foreign minister says. It doesn't matter that he sends some negotiating group to us.... All these people are nobodies, unfortunately," he told Dutch television in an interview filmed on Friday.
Moscow, in turn, has blamed Kiev for the stalemate that has hit the talks since March 29.
The Kremlin said earlier this month Ukraine was showing no willingness to continue peace talks.
Lithuanians raising fund to buy drone for Ukraine
Separately, the people of Lithuania have reportedly started raising funds to buy an advanced drone for Ukraine, despite Putin’s warning against further militarization of the country by the West.
Over just three and a half days, Lithuanians deposited five million euros ($4.7 million) into the fund, aimed at purchasing a Turkish-made Byraktar TB2 military drone, reported Laisves TV, the Lithuanian internet broadcaster that launched the drive.
Ukraine has bought more than 20 of the armed drones from Turkish company Baykar in recent years and ordered a further 16 on January 27, which were delivered in early March.
The purchase of the drones is being orchestrated by Lithuania's Ministry of Defense, which told Reuters it planned to sign a letter of
intent to buy the craft from Turkey next week.
"Novel, unexpected fundraisers fire people up again. It's the third month of the invasion… it's important to avoid getting
used to it," Lithuania's Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told Laisves TV.
"This is the first case in history when ordinary people raise money to buy something like a Bayraktar. It is unprecedented, it is unbelievable," Beshta Petro, Ukraine's ambassador to Lithuania, was quoted by Laisves TV as saying.
On Saturday, Putin once again cautioned against the West's continued delivery of weapons to Ukraine, saying the move could further destabilize the situation in the former Soviet state.
"The Russian President highlighted the issue of dangerous ongoing pumping of Ukraine with Western weapons, warning of the risks of further destabilization of the situation and aggravation of the humanitarian crisis," the Kremlin said in a statement, citing the Russian president as telling his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a phone call.
Moscow has vowed to stop the operation once its list of security demands were met. The demands include Ukraine's refusal to join the Western military alliance of NATO and its provision of due protection for Russia's interests on its soil.