Ukraine must accept all of Russia’s demands if it wants an end to the war that has been raging for four months, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
When speaking to reporters in Moscow on Thursday, Peskov was asked if he was familiar with a 15-point peace plan proposed by the publication The National Interest last week.
The article listed a number of scenarios required for hostilities to end. These included Ukraine becoming permanently neutral, Russia withdrawing its military forces to their pre-invasion positions and Moscow backing Kyiv’s EU aspirations.
It also called for Ukraine to recognize Crimea, seized in 2014, as Russian and for Kyiv to reduce its ground forces to no more than 150,000 active-duty troops.
Peskov responded that the Kremlin was not familiar with the article and that any peaceful settlement of the war was only possible after Ukraine “fulfills all the requirements of the Russian side.”
When asked to clarify what these were, Peskov responded: “Ukraine knows everything very well,” news agency Interfax reported. Newsweek has reached out to the Ukrainian foreign ministry for comment.
This comes as Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said that the battle for the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the east could soon be encircled by Russian forces and cut off from the rest of Ukraine.
He said that the fight had reached a “fearsome climax” and “the threat of a tactical Russian victory is there.”
Andrei Marochko, a spokesman for the army of Lugansk, a pro-Russian breakaway region in eastern Ukraine described Ukrainian resistance there as “futile,” The Moscow Times reported.
He added that “very soon the whole territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic will be liberated.”
In his nightly address on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that there had been “massive air and artillery strikes in Donbas” which Moscow “want to destroy.”
However, on Thursday, Ukrainian government official Oleksii Reznikov said that the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) had been delivered courtesy of the U.S. government.
“Thank you to my colleague and friend @SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools! Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, European leaders meeting in Brussels are set to make Ukraine a candidate to join the EU following an expedited process that was started by Kyiv’s application to join the bloc soon after the Russian invasion.
Although admission to the bloc can take many years, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said Ukraine reaching EU candidate status would set in stone that “Ukraine is Europe, not part of the ‘Russian world.'”
Update 06/23/22, 11.30 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with further information.