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Former president of Ukraine says only victory will bring peace to his country

HALIFAX — A former president of Ukraine delivered an uncompromising message on Sunday about the prospects for a negotiated peace with Russia during a security conference in Halifax.
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Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko fields questions at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax on Friday, Nov.18, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX — A former president of Ukraine delivered an uncompromising message on Sunday about the prospects for a negotiated peace with Russia during a security conference in Halifax.

Petro Poroshenko warned the Halifax International Security Forum that Russian President Vladimir Putin can’t be trusted to negotiate a deal.

Poroshenko, who was president from 2014-2019, said Russia had reneged on security guarantees given in deals signed between the two countries in 1994, 1997 and 2015.

He said the agreements ultimately didn’t save Ukraine from Russia’s armed invasion of his country on Feb. 24.

“What is the conclusion? Don’t trust Putin,” said Poroshenko. “Putin understands only one thing: strength and our (Ukraine’s) unity.”

The ex-president noted that there has been talk in some Western countries lately of the need for negotiations, but he had a facetious answer for his audience of political and military experts.

“It (negotiation) is already going on and we have a very well prepared and very professional negotiator which is supported by you and the whole world,” Poroshenko said. “Do you know the name of this negotiator? Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

He said Ukraine would continue to need financial help from countries such as the United States to win the war, otherwise he said the costs would be much higher in battling the global instability that would follow a potential defeat.

Poroshenko also assured the forum that political leaders in Ukraine are united.

“Before the 24th of February I was the leader of the opposition, now we are united in our opposition (to Russia) until our victory,” he said.

Poroshenko spoke as the war took another ominous turn, with reports of renewed shelling near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant - the largest such facility in Europe.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said there were reports of more than a dozen blasts within a short period of time on Sunday morning.

Russia has also been targeting Ukraine’s power grid and other key infrastructure in missile attacks over the last week, causing widespread blackouts for millions as frigid winter weather sets in around Kyiv and other cities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2022.

— With files from the Associated Press

The Canadian Press

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