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Peace talks in Ukraine conflict ‘not possible’ at this stage: UN chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he sees no immediate possibility of reaching a comprehensive ceasefire in the war in Ukraine as both sides are convinced they can win, according to an interview published by Spanish newspaper El Pais on Tuesday.

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Guterres told El Pais the UN was instead focusing on talks with both Russia and Ukraine to solve concrete problems such as extending the Black Sea grain deal that is set to expire on May 18.

“Unfortunately, I believe that at this stage, a peace negotiation is not possible. Both sides are convinced that they can win,” Guterres said.

“At the moment, I do not see any possibility of achieving immediately – we are not talking about the future – a comprehensive ceasefire, a peace negotiation,” he added.

Russian forces began a new attack on Ukraine on Tuesday as Russia commemorated the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, with Ukrainian air defenses destroying 23 of 25 missiles fired, primarily at the capital Kyiv, according to officials.

The fifth attack in May came a day after Russia launched its largest drone swarm in months, attacking Kyiv and the Black Sea city of Odesa as Ukraine prepares for a massive counter-offensive.

When asked about mediation efforts by China or Brazilian President Lula, Guterres emphasized that peace in the crisis could not be achieved at the present, while he hoped that it might “in the future.”

He also commended Beijing for its “unacceptable” stance on nuclear escalation, describing it as “very important to avoid a temptation that would be an intolerable absurdity”.

Nuclear tensions have risen since the Russian invasion, with Vladimir Putin regularly warning that Moscow is prepared to use its nuclear arsenal to defend its “territorial integrity” if necessary.

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