Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Saturday that only a diplomatic breakthrough rather than an outright military victory could end Russia’s war on his country, as Moscow cut gas supplies to Finland.
“There are things that can only be reached at the negotiating table,” Mr. Zelensky said, just as Russia claimed its long-range missiles had destroyed a shipment of Western arms destined for Ukraine’s troops.
After just over 12 weeks of fierce fighting, Ukrainian forces have halted Russian attempts to seize Kyiv and the northern city of Kharkiv, but are under renewed and intense pressure in the eastern Donbas region.
Moscow’s army have flattened and seized the southeastern port city of Mariupol and subjected Ukrainian troops and towns in the east to a remorseless ground and artillery attack.
Mr. Zelensky’s Western allies have shipped modern weaponry to his forces and imposed sweeping sanctions on the Russian economy and President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. But the Kremlin has responded by disrupting European energy supplies, and on Saturday cut off gas shipments to Finland, which angered Moscow by applying to join the NATO alliance.
Against this backdrop, Mr. Zelensky told Ukrainian television the war would end “through diplomacy”.
The conflict, he warned, “will be bloody, there will be fighting but will only definitively end through diplomacy” — promising only that the result would be “fair” for Ukraine.
“Discussions between Ukraine and Russia will decidedly take place. Under what format I don’t know -- with intermediaries, without them, in a broader group, at presidential level,” he said.
In order to side-step financial sanctions and force European energy clients to prop up his central bank, Mr. Putin has demanded that importers from “unfriendly countries” pay for gas in roubles. Russian energy giant Gazprom said it had halted supplies to Finland as it had not received rouble payments from Finland’s state-owned energy company Gasum by the end of Friday.