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PM says ‘no way’ Ukraine will join NATO soon as Zelensky sees hope in peace talks

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Russia’s demands in peace talks have become more “realistic” (Justin Tallis/PA) (PA Wire)

Boris Johnson said there is “no way Ukraine will join NATO any time soon” as Ukraine’s leader said peace talks with Russia had taken a “realistic” turn.

The prime minister, who is visiting the Gulf as he tries to dissuade the West from Russian energy, said he understood the “reality of the position” expressed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a speech in London, in which he appeared to relent. before the possibilities of joining the alliance.

The kyiv war leader, in a video call with Johnson and representatives from the Baltic and northern European countries meeting on Tuesday, expressed frustration that Ukraine had not been allowed to join NATO, but said: “This is the truth and we just have to accept it as it is.”

Johnson, speaking to announcers at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, said: “I spoke with Volodymyr (Zelensky) again yesterday and of course I understand what he is saying about NATO and the reality of the position.

“And the whole world has always said, and we have made it clear to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, that there is no way Ukraine will join NATO anytime soon.”

But Johnson said decisions about the country’s future had to “be up to the Ukrainian people” and their “elected leader”, and vowed Britain would continue to “stand behind” Zelensky.

“And the most important thing is that Putin’s aggression, his absolutely barbaric attacks on Ukraine must be stopped and it must not be seen that they have succeeded, and they will not succeed,” the prime minister added.

Zelensky, since addressing the London summit, suggested that peace talks between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations had begun to raise hopes of a ceasefire.

In his late-night video address to the nation early Wednesday, the president said Russia’s demands were becoming “more realistic.”

The two sides were expected to speak again on Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was less optimistic in her assessment of the conflict, telling Sky News she feared “we are nowhere near the end, at this stage”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed by video link Boris Johnson and leaders attending a Joint Expeditionary Force summit in London (Justin Tallis/PA) (PA Wire)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed by video link Boris Johnson and leaders attending a Joint Expeditionary Force summit in London (Justin Tallis/PA) (PA Wire)

He also told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the Ukrainians are negotiating peace with a “gun to their heads”.

Ms Truss added: “I am very, very concerned that Putin is playing a game of smoke and mirrors by trying to claim that he is seeking peace while at the same time continuing this appalling war that he instigated and not taking action. decision. progress he thought he would make.”

It comes as the Foreign Secretary urged allies to step up action against Moscow as she called on opponents of the war to sanction Russia.

The Cabinet minister announced on Tuesday more than 370 sanctions on Russia and Belarus, bringing the total number of individuals, entities and subsidiaries subjected to strict measures to more than 1,000 since the invasion of Ukraine began.

Speaking to Sky News, Ms Truss argued that sanctions from the UK and other Western nations were having a “weakening effect on the Russian economy”, and that Britain was to come more.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the Ukrainians are negotiating peace with a 'gun to their heads' (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Ukrainians are negotiating peace with a ‘gun against their heads’ (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Following the introduction of new powers that lower the threshold for applying sanctions, he said “we have more people on our list” as well as companies to target.

Pressing allies to go further, the Foreign Secretary noted that the European Union had sanctioned three Russian banks, compared to 10 targeted by the UK and US, adding that he would like Brussels to “sanction even more” financial institutions.

He also argued that more sanctions could come “collectively” from the 141 countries that voted against Russia in the UN General Assembly.

The UK is working with allies “in the G7 and beyond,” Truss said, to ensure that Russian oligarchs have “nowhere legitimate to live their lifestyle, have their yachts or have their planes.”

UK officials said on Tuesday that the public could expect more relatives of oligarchs to face sanctions in the next wave of announcements.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that Ukraine continued to be successful in “halting Russia’s advance”, and that Kremlin forces were also “struggling to overcome the challenges posed by Ukraine’s terrain”.

There has also been a “failure to gain control of the air,” the department said, in its latest defense intelligence update.

“The tactics of the Ukrainian armed forces have skillfully exploited Russia’s lack of maneuver, thwarting the Russian advance and inflicting heavy losses on the invading forces,” the Defense Ministry tweeted.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, speaking during his visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, said weapons from Western nations are still reaching Ukrainian forces on the front lines.

He said alliance members need to “see what else we can do” to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s incursion.

Wallace’s comments came after Truss said it was becoming “difficult” to get humanitarian aid to “besieged” Ukrainian cities.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

Some 20,000 people have been able to flee the southern city of Mariupol, but Zelensky said the Russians refused to allow aid into the heavily bombed port.

Before dawn, huge explosions rumbled across kyiv from what Ukrainian authorities said were artillery strikes, as Russia’s bombardment of the capital appeared to become more systematic and moved closer to the city center.

Elsewhere, Interior Ministry Minister Kevin Foster told MPs from the Home Affairs Committee that 5,500 visas have now been granted under the Ukraine Family Scheme and 20,000 applications have been submitted.

Expressions of interest in taking in a Ukrainian refugee with no family ties to Britain, through the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship programme, reached 138,000 on Wednesday, Downing Street confirmed.


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