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Russia Admits Chances of Victory in Ukraine are Narrowing

Top Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has suggested that Russia’s chances of victory in Ukraine are narrowing.

Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, had previously said there was a possibility of victory in Ukraine could be achieved for Russia through peace talks, with some conditions remaining nonnegotiable. However, on Monday he said the Russian leader’s war goals can now only be achieved by military means.

Russia has maintained throughout the conflict, which passed the one-year mark on February 24, that Crimea, which Putin illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, must remain part of its nation in any future peace talks. Putin has also said that four Ukrainian regions that he illegally annexed in September 2022 must also be recognized as Russian.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has put forward a 10-point peace plan that invalidates the annexations of the four partially Russian-controlled regions—Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson. Foreign governments, including the US, do not recognize the annexations.

On Monday, Peskov told reporters that the goals set out by Putin in what he called a “special military operation” are not currently achievable via peace talks.

“For us, the absolute priority continues to be and will always remain the achievement of the goals set. At the moment they can only be achieved by military means,” Peskov said.

In October 2022, Peskov told Russian newspaper Izvestia that Putin’s goals in Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine were unchanged, but that they could be achieved through talks.

“The direction has not changed, the special military operation continues, it continues in order for us to achieve our goals,” Peskov was quoted as saying at the time. “However, we have repeatedly reiterated that we remain open to negotiations to achieve our objectives.”

Zelensky previously shut down the possibility of holding talks with Russia after Ukraine was hit with a barrage of missiles in the aftermath of an explosion on the bridge over the Kerch Strait, the only bridge connecting the annexed Crimean Peninsula with Russia, in October.

Peskov’s remarks came as Russia pushed on with its goal of seizing Ukraine’s entire eastern Donbas region. This year, Russia has taken control of the salt-mining town of Soledar, and it hopes to soon take the city of Bakhmut, where forces from both sides have clashed since July 2022.

Newsweek has reached out to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs via email for comment.

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Top Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has suggested that Russia’s chances of victory in Ukraine are narrowing.

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