MESOP MIDEAST WATCH:Zelenskyy offers Russian troops ‘chance to survive’ by surrendering

Advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says war likely to end in May when Russia “runs out of resources.” Zelenskyy, meanwhile, says Ukrainian and Russian envoys did “good work” in ceasefire talks

ISRAEL HAYOM    03-15-2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is offering Russian troops a “chance to survive” if they surrender and predicting that Ukraine will win in the war against Russia’s invasion, Fox News reported Tuesday.

The report quoted Zelenskyy speaking from the presidential office, saying, “The 19th day of our resistance is over. Historical war. Another difficult day, which is still approaching our victory. Approaching peace for Ukraine.”

“They flee the battlefield. They abandon equipment,” Zelenskyy said of Russia’s troops in Ukraine, calling them “confused.”

“Russian conscripts! Listen to me very carefully,” Zelenskyy said. “Russian officers! … You will not take anything from Ukraine. You will take lives. There are a lot of you. But your life will also be taken. But why should you die? What for? I know that you want to survive. On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I give you a chance. Chance to survive,” Zelenskyy said.

The Ukrainian president spoke as a series of Russian strikes hit a residential neighborhood of Ukraine’s capital on Tuesday, igniting a huge fire and frantic rescue effort in a 15-story Kyiv apartment building. At least one person was killed and others remain trapped inside.

The Ukrainian military said in a statement that the strikes were artillery strikes. They hit the Svyatoshynskyi district of western Kyiv, adjacent to the suburb of Irpin that has seen some of the worst battles of the war.

An ariel view shows smoke rising as an armored vehicle is shot at next to a building in Maripuol, Ukraine, on March 13, 2022

Russian forces also stepped up strikes overnight on the northwest suburbs of Irpin, Hostomel and Bucha, the head of the Kyiv region Oleksiy Kuleba said on Ukrainian television.

Late Monday, Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said the war in Ukraine was likely to be over by early May when Russia would run out of resources to attack its neighbor.

In a video published by several Ukrainian media, Arestovich said the exact timing would depend on how much resources the Kremlin was willing to commit to the campaign.

“I think that no later than in May, early May, we should have a peace agreement, maybe much earlier, we will see, I am talking about the latest possible dates,” Arestovich said.People remove their belongings from a destroyed building after it was hit by artillery shelling in Kyiv on March 14, 2022

“We are at a fork in the road now: there will either be a peace deal struck very quickly, within a week or two, with troop withdrawal and everything, or there will be an attempt to scrape together some, say, Syrians for a round two and, when we grind them too, an agreement by mid-April or late April.”

A “completely crazy” scenario could also involve Russia sending fresh conscripts after a month of training, he said.

Still, even once peace is agreed, small tactical clashes could remain possible for a year, according to Arestovich, although Ukraine insists on the complete removal of Russian troops from its territory.

Talks between Kyiv and Moscow – in which Arestovich is not personally involved – have so far produced very few results other than several humanitarian corridors out of besieged Ukrainian cities.

Zelenskyy said that talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations would continue Tuesday.

Speaking in a video address, Zelenskyy said that the Ukrainian delegation did good work during Monday’s talks. He didn’t provide further details.

As far as other major world players, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday said Iran did not support Russia’s war in Ukraine, after a call with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian ahead of the latter’s visit to Moscow on Tuesday.

“Iran is against the war in Ukraine, supports a peaceful solution. I asked to convey my message in Moscow: Russia must stop bombing civilians, commit to the ceasefire, and withdraw from Ukraine,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin-backed leader of the Russian region of Chechnya says that Chechen fighters were spearheading a Russian offensive on the strategic port of Mariupol.

Chechnya’s regional leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, said on the messaging app Telegram that Chechen fighters went 1.5 kilometers (about 1 mile) inside the Azov Sea city before pausing their attack when night fell.

Kadyrov said his close associate Adam Delimkhanov was leading Chechen fighters in Mariupol.

In another development, power supply has been renewed to Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the Ukraine 24 television station said on Tuesday, adding that authorities had notified the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On Monday, state-owned grid operator Ukrenergo said the Chernobyl plant was relying on electricity from diesel generators after its external power supply had again been damaged.