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ICDS chief: Ukraine not under any pressure from West to engage in peace talks

Indrek Kannik in the
Indrek Kannik in the "Aktuaalne kaamera" studios. Source: ERR

There is no discernible pressure coming from other Western nations in the direction of Ukraine having to start peace negotiations with Russia, one defense expert says.

Speaking to ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera," Kannik, who is director of think-tank the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) said: "I don't sense any significant pressure towards Ukraine heading for peace talks coming from the major western capitals right now."

For one thing, "it is clear to all that Russia is not ready for such negotiations. Russia is not ready for any serious negotiations. Russia is only ready for Ukraine's capitulation and surrender, on completely unacceptable terms."

Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto claimed earlier this week that he has seen signals coming from both sides that the time for diplomacy, to pave the way for peace, is ripe.

In response to a question on this, Kannik said: "The Italian defense minister's statements on this topic have consistently diverged from the head of government, and other members of the [Italian] government, over the past year, so I wouldn't pay too much attention to it."

While on his official visit to Estonia on Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to his compatriots, more specifically men of military mobilization age (X) who left the country after the Russian invasion, to return, to contribute to the war effort.

According to Indrek Kannik, this would not likely mean any move towards the extradition or expulsion, from Estonia, for from any other EU country, of Ukrainian citizens liable for military service.

Such a move would have to be done jointly by EU member states and must be preceded by a unified desire on the part of Ukraine for that to happen.

"As things stand, I think that Ukraine is more trying to convince these people to return."

At the same time, expectations that this will happen remain, in Ukraine, Kannik said.

"One side to this is that there are not too many soldiers left. But the second is certainly that if these people do not even contribute to Ukraine's economy even as taxpayers, then they are not actually helping Ukraine at all."

Kannik also noted the other key takeaway from Zelenskyy's Thursday visit as its expression of gratitude to the people of Estonia for standing by Ukraine in its hour of need and of providing aid ahead of many, larger countries.

Indrek Kannik was talking to Johannes Tralla.

Some reports have stated that the average age of Ukrainian servicemen advanced around 10 years, to age 43, between the start of the Russian invasion and late 2023.

A general ban on travel abroad put in place at the start of the war has been extended every three months down to the present, while last month President Zelenskyy proposed a mobilization of up to half-a-million Ukrainian citizens, which would necessitate drafting military-age Ukrainian men living abroad (estimated in the hundreds of thousands).

The current conscription age is 27, though Zelenskyy has proposed reducing this to 25.

Russia, too, has faced mobilization issues; it is not clear how far the well-reported September 2022 plan to mobilize 300,000 recruits actually came to fruition, though Vladimir Putin has called for the maximum number of military personnel to be raised to 2.2 million (close to double the estimated current figure).

An oft-overlooked aspect of mobilization is its sheer cost; for instance Zelenskyy put the estimated cost of last month's mobilization proposal at Hr 500 billion (around €12 billion).

Meanwhile Ukrainian publication European Pravda reports that Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said this week that "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 has maintained a line strongly in support of Kyiv, European Pravda wrote, and has reiterated that any peace talks must clearly acknowledge Russia's aggression against Ukraine in February 2022. On Wednesday, the Lower House of the Italian parliament voted in favor of a resolution to continue military support for Ukraine.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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