Ukraine Recap: Zelenskiy Denies Pressure to Enter Peace Talks

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(Bloomberg) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pushed back on an NBC report that US and European officials have begun pressuring Kyiv toward possible peace negotiations with Moscow. “I do not know who is publishing this and for what,” Zelenskiy said at a press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Ukraine’s east and southeast, where Kyiv has been waging a months-long counteroffensive, is “not a gridlock,” Zelenskiy added. With winter bearing down, army commander Valeriy Zaluzhnyi warned this week that the conflict with Russia, now in its 21st month, has entered a new phase of static and attritional fighting similar to World War One.

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Von der Leyen lauded “excellent progress” by Ukraine on critical reforms after meeting with Zelenskiy, amid expectations that the European Union’s executive arm will soon recommend a start to membership talks. “You have made excellent progress, this is impressive to see, we will testify to this next week when the commission will present its report on enlargement,” she said. Zelenskiy vowed that Ukraine “will be fully prepared both for the start of EU accession talks and, later, full-fledged EU membership.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman criticized NATO expansion, branding the alliance “a weapon of confrontation.” Speaking at a Moscow forum, which has also featured appearances from government and central bank officials, Dmitry Peskov addressed speculation that his boss uses body doubles, saying “there’s only one Putin.” State television showed the Russian leader meeting religious leaders, children and young adults on Red Square as the nation marked National Unity Day.

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