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Ukraine's territorial integrity will never be up for negotiation, warns parliament chairman

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By Sandor Zsiros  & Jorge Liboreiro
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Ruslan Stefanchuk was in Strasbourg, France, where he addressed the European Parliament.
Ruslan Stefanchuk was in Strasbourg, France, where he addressed the European Parliament.   -   Copyright  Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Ukraine's territorial integrity will never be up for negotiation with Russia, warned the chairman of Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

"Never, never the topic for negotiation will be the issue of Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Ukraine is an integral, sovereign country and will stay as such because it is recognised as such by the entire civilised world," Ruslan Stefanchuk told Euronews during his visit to Strasbourg, France, where he addressed the European Parliament.

"There is space for negotiation, for diplomacy. But we have to understand that, with each Irpin, with each Bucha, with each Mariupol, the corridor for negotiation gets smaller and smaller."

Stefanchuk's words come in the midst of growing speculation about what kind of concessions Russia could demand to agree to a ceasefire and bring the brutal invasion to a halt.

Earlier this week, President Emmanuel Macron of France enraged Ukraine after suggesting the West "must not humiliate Russia" in order to build an "exit ramp."

The chairman didn’t address Macron’s controversial comments but stressed "the war will finish with the victory of Ukraine and the entire Europe."

"No one knows [when that will be], but I am sure that each and every day we are closer to our joint victory," he said.

"Ukrainians want to be united. They want to be back in the united European house. They want to live with the free countries. They don't want to be in the Soviet Union 2.0."

Stefanchuk made the case for Ukraine to be granted EU candidate status, a move that Kyiv considers an essential morale boost as the door to NATO appears to have definitely closed.

If member states unanimously agree to grant the status, Ukraine will officially begin a lengthy, complex and expensive accession process. EU enlargement has remained stalled for years, as the appetite to welcome new countries dramatically plummeted across the bloc. Although the war seems to have injected new momentum, several capitals argue accession is not the appropriate solution for the present crisis.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi recently said Italy was the "only big EU country" that supports the candidacy status.

"We don't want you [the EU] to invent something in your non-existing status for Ukraine or do something special for Ukraine. Ukraine wants to have a frank way to get this status and then, later on, we want to do everything which is needed to receive full-fledged membership," Stefanchuk said.

"When we get the candidacy, we can have our road map. We will better understand what we have to do, when to do, what is better. So then, we will be able to become full members."

The chairman also said Ukraine was willing to discuss a "common" approach to get 20 million tonnes of grain out of the country. The continued blockade of the Black Sea threatens to trigger a global famine, with low-income countries facing soaring food prices and shrinking supplies.