ROME (Reuters) – The time has come for diplomacy to pave the way for peace between Russia and Ukraine, Italy’s defense minister said on Wednesday, adding that strong Western support for Kiev was crucial to ensure serious negotiations.
Guido Crosetto told parliament that Ukraine’s 2023 counter-offensive had not produced the expected result and that the military situation should be viewed realistically.
“From this point of view… it would seem that the time has come for incisive diplomacy, alongside military support, because there are a number of important signals coming from both sides,” Crosetto said.
Russia is gradually showing its willingness to negotiate and safeguard its economy, while Ukraine’s position seems less intransigent than before, he said.
“All this must be taken into consideration in the context of negotiations aimed at ending the conflict and the subsequent process of normalization of relations, not only of Russia with Ukraine, but also with Western countries,” he said. he declares.
Russia has said it is ready to begin peace talks if Ukraine takes into account “new realities”, suggesting a recognition that Russia controls around 17.5% of Ukraine’s territory.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has dismissed any notion that Moscow is interested in negotiations, telling the Economist magazine this month that Russia would only agree to a pause in fighting if it needed a break to rebuild its army. .
“In Ukraine, the domestic front no longer seems as united as in the past in supporting President Zelenskiy’s policies, which highlights some divergences in the political discourse,” Crosetto said.
Zelenskiy has embarked on a series of international trips in recent weeks, trying to shore up Western support amid warnings that Ukraine’s military is running out of weapons.
Italy passed a decree last month allowing it to continue sending war equipment to Ukraine until the end of 2024. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government also agreed to send more equipment to kyiv to strengthen its defense.
Crosetto, a strong supporter of kyiv and a prominent member of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, reiterated that any peace talks must clearly recognize Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in February 2022.
“Full territorial integrity and recognized borders of Ukraine remain the goal of the entire international community,” he said.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; editing by Crispian Balmer and Christina Fincher)
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