KYIV, Ukraine — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday, June 2, 2023, that the United States and its allies should not support a ceasefire or peace talks to end the war in Ukraine until Kyiv gains strength and can negotiate on its own terms.

As an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive appeared to be taking shape, Blinken said heeding calls from Russia and others, including China, for negotiations now would result in a false “Potemkin peace” that wouldn’t secure Ukraine’s sovereignty or enhance European security.

“We believe the prerequisite for meaningful diplomacy and real peace is a stronger Ukraine, capable of deterring and defending against any future aggression,” Blinken said in a speech in Finland, which recently became the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (Nato) newest member and shares a long border with Russia.

His use of the term “Potemkin” referred to the brightly painted village fronts that 18th century Russian government minister Grigory Potemkin reportedly used to have built to create an illusion of prosperity for Russia’s empress.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his goal is to drive Russian troops out of the four territories it partially occupies and illegally annexed last fall, as well as from the Crimean Peninsula the Kremlin illegally seized in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said two of his goals in invading Ukraine were to improve Russia’s security and prevent Ukraine from joining Nato but the Kyiv government has applied to join the alliance, and Sweden is hoping to be accepted as a member in July. That would surround Russia with Nato countries in the Baltic Sea. / AP