Ukraine's Zelensky Rules Out Talks With Putin, Dismisses Musk Intervention

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Ukraine's Zelensky Rules Out Talks With Putin, Dismisses Musk Intervention

By Geoffrey Smith

Investing.com -- Elon Musk's impromptu attempt to broker peace in Ukraine fell on deaf ears on Tuesday, with both Russia and Ukraine ruling out his proposals.

Musk's canvassed on social media on Monday suggesting that Ukraine should cede Crimea and accept permanent neutrality - a core demand of Russia prior to its invasion in February. He also suggested re-running under UN supervision the referendums in four Ukrainian provinces that were used by Russia as a pretext for annexing them last week.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agency RIA Novosti as welcoming Musk's proposals, saying it was "thoroughly positive that such a person should look for ways out of the current situation around Ukraine."

However, Peskov dismissed out of hand the suggestion about repeating the referendums in Zaporizhzhya, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk, which were universally condemned by Ukraine and its western backers as "sham" and "a farce".

"The inhabitants have already expressed their opinion. There cannot be any other," RIA quoted Peskov as saying.

Russian troops do not control any one of the four provinces in their entirety, and continued to give ground on Tuesday, as Ukrainian forces continued their advance on the Kherson and Donbas fronts.

Musk's intervention had provoked barely-concealed fury in Ukraine. One respondent asked whether his relatives, killed by a missile strike in eastern Ukraine earlier during the war, would be allowed to vote this time around.

"Those who propose Ukraine to give up on its people and land — presumably not to hurt Putin’s bruised ego or to save Ukraine from suffering — must stop using word “peace” as an euphemism to “let Russians murder and rape thousands more innocent Ukrainians, and grab more land," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement.

Zelensky, meanwhile, signed a decree on Tuesday formally ruling out any peace talks with Russia as long as Vladimir Putin is president.

He had earlier responded to Musk's post on Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ) with one of his own, asking "Which @elonmusk do you like more? One who supports Ukraine (or) One who supports Russia".

Ukraine's forces continued their advances in both the south and east of the country on Tuesday. Its Defense Ministry confirmed the liberation of another seven settlements in its midday briefing, while Russian military bloggers also acknowledged that Russian forces were falling back toward the city of Kherson on the river Dnieper.

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