Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated that Ukraine would not give up sovereign territories as part of any cease-fire in his most recent interview to date with Newsmax. Zelensky has been consistent with the no land for peace position since the beginning of the conflict.
Henry Kissinger made a statement at The World Economic Forum Business Leaders Conference 2022 in Davos, Switzerland, warning that Ukraine must give up land for peace to not humiliate Putin. Ukraine specifically rejected Kissinger’s proposal.
The New York Post is reporting that Russia is advancing, and that Biden has refused Ukraine long-range missiles. The fact that President Biden is showing restraint in starting to limit the types of weapons platforms the United States is willing to give Ukraine is also telling. The US has been on a spending binge, giving Zelensky everything he needs except for American boots on the ground.
Although the Ukrainian President has not moved on the territory issue, he has responded to the shift in messaging by his allies by explicitly stating that he will not attack targets within Russia. Zelensky is clearly trying to get Biden to change his stance on the additional weapons platforms without showing weakness.
One of the reasons that Ukraine is playing hardball on the land issue is that in addition to the successes they have had on the battlefield, there could be severe consequences of a loss or negotiated peace with Russia. The Kremlin and its mouthpieces have said that Zelensky will be tried as a war criminal if captured. This stance by Putin may harden the resolve of the Ukrainian President. Zelensky may hold fast until the end no matter how the narrative shifts.