Many residents of Ukraine’s capital city said the idea of a negotiated end to Russia’s invasion can only be possible once Russia withdraws from Ukrainian territory.
Senior US officials have in recent weeks been urging Ukraine to signal that they are still open to diplomatic discussions with Russia, amid concerns that public support for the country’s war effort could wane with no end to the conflict in sight and neither side willing to begin peace talks, sources familiar with the discussions tell CNN.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has ruled out talks with Russia so long as President Vladimir Putin is in charge. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday that Russia is “open to” negotiation with Ukraine, but that the moment was not right for talks.
CNN took to the streets of Kyiv Tuesday to get a sense of residents’ openness to negotiation with Russia.
Daryna Chupat is a 20-year-old student who said the mood in Ukraine is “victory or death.”
“We have to push back to our borders, or at least to try to do so,” he told CNN. “There is an opinion that Ukraine will 100% win only when Russia falls. It seems like a great idea to me because any agreement with Russia is nothing but empty words. Any of their guarantees are not actually guarantees at all. “
Zoya Popova, 70-year-old retiree, said she agreed with Zelensky that the only acceptable outcome was a total withdrawal of Russian troops.
“We can’t talk to them, because Ukraine’s losses are enormous,” she said. “We can’t even count these losses yet, and we won’t be able to do this until all the territory of Ukraine is liberated.”
“After all the cessations, a trial in The Hague must take place. After that, we can discuss any kind of peace,” she said.
Valentyna Polischuk is a 53-year-old saleswoman, said “all the ways to achieve a peace are good, including negotiations, but they should take into account our demands.”
She said that while Crimea was a “complicated issue,” the Russia-claimed regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson “are ours.”
“If our conditions are accepted – even though it’s difficult for the Russians, they can find a way, and do so – if they leave, the war will be over,” she said.
Ukraine should talk to Russia, she said, but if negotiations aren’t successful, “we have to ask assistance from our allies, defend ourselves, and push them out of here.”
Vlad, a 31-year-old who provided only his first name because he’s serving in the military. said the “only way” for negotiations to start is “when we get regain all our borders.”
Negotiations, he said, are impossible, “because their attitude to us is not human.”
“How can we negotiate with them if in few years they can go to war against us again? What we should discuss with them is not the war, but the fact that we’ll not give our territories under any conditions,” he added.
“These talks can be launched only after we get back our borders as they were in 1991,” including Crimea and all of Donetsk and Luhansk, he said. “Other kinds of negotiations with them make no sense, because the only thing Russia wants is to restore the Soviet Union.”
CNN’s Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood and Oren Liebermann contributed reporting to this post.