Ukraine has been urged to give up Crimea by the Brazilian President.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva suggested on Thursday that Ukraine cede the Black Sea peninsula to Russia to end the war, adding his Ukrainian counterpart “cannot want everything”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot seize the territory of Ukraine. Perhaps Crimea will be discussed. But what more he invaded, he has to think about,” Lula said during a meeting with journalists in Brasilia.
“Zelenskyy can’t want everything either,” he continued. “The world needs tranquillity… We have to find a solution.”
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, a move widely condemned as an illegal land grab.
Before Moscow’s February invasion, Kyiv saw political and diplomatic means as the best way of returning the peninsula to its control. This changed with the outbreak of war.
To date, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has refused to negotiate with Moscow, insisting it must first withdraw all of its troops from Ukraine. Western allies, notably the UK, have supported this.
Many arguments have been raised against Ukraine handing over Crimea, such as it could embolden Russia to conduct further attacks and seize more Ukrainian soil.
A majority of Ukrainians are also against handing over Crimea.
A poll in February and March by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology found 87% of Ukrainians deemed any territorial concessions to establish peace unacceptable.
It revealed that 64% of Ukrainians want their country to try and retake all of its territory, including Crimea, “even… if there is a risk of protected war”.
Though vague, Brazil’s Lula has put forward a proposal to mediate the conflict with a group of countries. He is due to present his proposal to Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing next week.
In March, China also presented its own peace plan, which was flatly rejected by Ukraine and the West.
Lula’s international affairs adviser Celso Amorim met Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow at the end of March. Russia’s president is expected in Brazil on April 17.
On Thursday, an adviser to Zelenskyy hinted Ukraine may be willing to discuss the future of Crimea with Moscow if its military forces reach the border of the peninsula.
“If we will succeed in achieving our strategic goals on the battlefield and when we will be on the administrative border with Crimea, we are ready to open a diplomatic page to discuss this issue,” said Andriy Sybiha, Deputy Head of the President’s Office in an interview with the Financial Times.
It is unclear if these remarks were sincere or if they are red herring to trick Moscow into believing Kyiv’s upcoming offensive will focus on the south.