Ukraine ‘miscalculated’ Putin’s strategy at first: FM Kuleba

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Ukraine had “miscalculated” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy during the early days of the invasion when he beefed up his military buildup on Ukraine’s border with Russia, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told NPR on Monday.

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“… We miscalculated him. By the time he was pulling all this army to the border of Ukraine. Deep inside, he made the decision that he was going to invade, and he was setting the stage for this invasion. But, you know, we are looking back in this situation, and now we can understand the sequence and the logic of his actions,” Kuleba said in an interview with the US news media outlet.

“Things were not as clear as they look now.”

Looking back at the situation, the Ukrainian foreign minister said that he believes Putin has run out of options.

“I think he has only one option, but he doesn't want to accept it. And that option is losing the war,” Kuleba told NPR.

“The difficulty and the tragedy of this moment is that he is not willing to face the truth and to seek the way out. Instead, he’s throwing more and more resources and, most importantly, human resources into the battle, trying to win at any cost. But this is not going to happen. He’s not going to win.”

Kuleba’s comments came after Russia announced a ceasefire that ran from Friday midday until midnight on Saturday, claiming that it was so Orthodox Christians could celebrate Christmas, which falls on January 7 for the Russian Orthodox Church each year.

Ukraine never officially accepted the ceasefire, according to Kuleba.

“These are two big Russian lies. The one on the ceasefire working – it’s not only the government of Ukraine who rejects this allegation. It’s also the international media present on the ground in Kramatorsk, who immediately went to the places where allegedly Russian missiles hit dormitories with Ukrainian soldiers, and it didn’t happen,” he added.

“These soldiers did not die. So, this is just one -- another evidence that you should never trust what the Russians are saying.”

The war in Ukraine, now in its 11th month, continues to cause destruction, with thousands dead and millions displaced.

Missile strikes were reported in the Donbas region, the war’s frontline, including on the city of Kramatorsk, with no reported casualties, the region’s governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

There were also reports of blasts in the city of Zaporizhzhia, without any immediate details on damages or casualties.

Russia is not yet ready to negotiate, Kuleba said.

“We see that they [Russia] are rejecting the peace formula proposed by President Zelenskyy. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep trying,” the Ukrainian foreign minister added.

“We have to pursue a diplomatic process as well. And this is what President Zelenskyy came up with: the peace formula consisting of ten simple steps. Some of them require Russia’s participation, some don’t. Russia may like it or may not like it, but it’s about building a coalition: a coalition of countries who are willing to seek [a] diplomatic solution along the lines proposed by President Zelenskyy.”

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