Russia is claiming that peace talks with Ukraine are "impossible" because Russia still wants to seize more territory, and because Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't believe Ukraine exists as a country, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker said on Newsmax Tuesday.
"Putin is never interested in talking to the Ukrainians about peace," Volker, also a former special representative to Ukraine, told Newsmax's "John Bachman Now." "He only wants to talk with us or the West about Ukraine, so that's one thing that's already a nonstarter for the Ukrainians."
In addition, Volker said, Russia is insisting that it has already taken territory from Ukraine and annexed it to Russia.
"That's their starting point in any negotiations, again, something simply unacceptable and not a serious negotiation," said Volker.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, said Monday that negotiations "are now impossible since there are no conditions for them."
Further, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while in South Africa Monday, said Ukraine must make its stance on negotiations clear through mediators.
"When Peskov says that they're not ready to negotiate about peace now, what he's saying is that they don't control all the territory that they want to take yet, so they're going to keep trying to take it," Volker told Newsmax.
Meanwhile, the United States is finalizing plans to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine, reports CNN, and it appears there is movement between Poland and Germany to get Leopard 2 tanks to the region, and Volker said "every little bit helps."
"The Ukrainians have a large number of Russian-made tanks, but they are not as good as the Western tanks," he said. "We are expecting to see a large Russian offensive this spring and having better tanks and better armor to defend against that will be very important for Ukraine to protect its territory."
Ukraine is also going to try a counteroffensive, to break the landline of communication Russia has established to Crimea and to take back some of the eastern territories Russia took in 2022, said Volker.
"They're also going to need modern tanks like this, so this will be an improvement in Ukrainian capabilities," he said. "It's maybe not decisive, but it's certainly a step up."
Meanwhile, Putin still has is the threat of nuclear weapons, but he is "very reluctant to actually use nuclear weapons or even give an order," said Volker.
"He's heard from the West that there would be devastating consequences for Russia, that if he did that, it means some kind of retaliation," he said. "He's heard from the Chinese and the Indians that they will not support Russia using any nuclear weapons, and he's probably heard from his own military that says, 'We don't want to use nuclear weapons because we're not sure that we can suffer that.'"
The military also does not believe it can "survive the consequences" of the pushback if a nuclear weapon is used, and it doesn't think anything will be achieved on the battlefield that will help it take more Ukrainian territory, said Volker.
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