Ukraine opened this Thursday to talk about the future status of the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, while bloody fighting continued in the towns of Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Mariinka, whose fate will largely decide which of the sides will have the best cards for negotiate.

“If we manage to achieve our strategic objectives on the battlefield, when we reach the administrative border with Crimea, we will be ready to open a diplomatic page to deal with this matter,” Andriy Sybiha, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, told the newspaper “Financial Times” (FT).

The adviser pointed out that this does not mean that kyiv excludes the possibility of liberating the peninsula within the framework of the counteroffensive that Ukrainian troops plan for the coming weeks or months.

These statements are, in the FT’s opinion, one of the most explicit signs to date of Ukraine’s intention to negotiate on Crimea, which could “alleviate” the fears of Western countries that were suspicious of a possible attempt by Kiev to regain control. peninsula by force.

Sybiha emphasized that the talks in the president’s entourage about an eventual negotiation concern exclusively Crimea.

So far, Ukraine has publicly ruled out talks with Moscow until all Russian troops have withdrawn from all of its territory, including the Black Sea peninsula.

However, the Ukrainian presidential spokesman, Serhii Nikiforov, affirmed that in matters such as the future of Crimea, one must be guided in the first place by the statements of the president, Volodimir Zelensky.

Sybiha himself later qualified his words to ensure that the negotiations on Crimea are only one of the “options” that kyiv is considering.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian General Staff said in its daily report that Russian forces continue to launch attacks to “completely” take over the city of Bakhmut, where Ukrainian troops repelled at least 20 assault attempts over the past day.

“The epicenter of the fighting is still in Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka,” he points out.

The Ukrainian military report also says that the Russian army “is increasing the fortification of its defensive borders and its positions” in the territories it controls in Zaporizhia and Kherson in southern Ukraine, presumably in anticipation of a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive.

For his part, the secretary of the Ukrainian Defense and Security Council, Oleksii Danilov, stated that only a very small number of people know the details of the future Ukrainian counteroffensive.

“The date of the beginning of certain military operations and military actions is known only by a very small circle of people,” he said in statements collected by the UNIAN agency.

He added right away that the rest of the people will find out about the start of the counterattack when it has already started.

The head of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgueni Prigozhin, reiterated for his part that the Ukrainians are resisting in the strategic city of Bakhmut, where they maintain the defense “within the margins of the city.”

Prigozhin, who a few days ago proclaimed control of his fighters over the City Hall of the city, was convinced that Wagner’s units “will expel all” the Ukrainian military.

Meanwhile, the authorities imposed by Russia in the Donetsk region assured that the Ukrainian forces have already lost more than 15,000 men in the battle for Bakhmut.

This Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin received the leader of Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, in the Kremlin and pointed out that the objective of the Russian forces in Donbas is to move the line of separation with the Ukrainian forces to such a distance that they cannot reach with their artillery the Russian troops and the capitals of Donetsk and Lugansk.

“The aim is that there will be no more bombings,” said Putin, who also met today with leaders of the Moscow-designated annexed Lugansk, Zaporiyia and Jerson.

According to the criteria of The Trust Project