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Trump says he can end the Russia-Ukraine war in one day. Russia’s UN ambassador says he can’t

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Donald Trump has said repeatedly he could settle the war between Russia and Ukraine in one day if he’s elected president again. Russia’s United Nations ambassador says he can’t.

When asked to respond to the claim from the presumptive Republican nominee, Vassily Nebenzia told reporters Monday that “the Ukrainian crisis cannot be solved in one day.”

At a CNN town hall in May 2023, Trump said: “They’re dying, Russians and Ukrainians. I want them to stop dying. And I’ll have that done — I’ll have that done in 24 hours.” He said that would happen after he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And he keeps repeating the claim on the campaign trail.

During last week’s debate with President Joe Biden, Trump claimed, “If we had a real president, a president that knew — that was respected by Putin … he would have never invaded Ukraine.”

Nebenzia said the war could have ended in April 2022 in Istanbul when Russia and Ukraine were “very close” to an agreement. Moscow invaded its neighbor two months earlier on Feb. 24, 2022, though Russia insists its “special military operation” began in 2014 after clashes in Ukraine’s east resulted in Moscow seizing the Crimea Peninsula.

The Russian ambassador blamed Ukraine’s Western backers for blocking the April 2022 peace deal and telling Kyiv to keep fighting Russia.

Now, he said, Zelenskyy “is running around with his so-called peace plan which, of course, is not a peace plan but a joke.” While meeting in Switzerland last month, nearly 80 countries called for the “territorial integrity” of Ukraine to be the basis for any peace agreement to end the war. But some key developing nations did not join in and Russia did not attend the conference.

Nebenzia pointed to Putin’s offer on June 14 to “immediately” order a cease-fire in Ukraine and start negotiations if Kyiv begins withdrawing troops from the four regions annexed by Moscow in 2022 and renounces plans to join NATO.

Zelenskyy, who has vowed not to give up any territory, rejected what he called an ultimatum by Putin to surrender more land.

The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment about Nebenzia’s remarks.

After Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainian forces thwarted their drive to the capital. Much of the fighting has been focused in Ukraine’s south and east, where Moscow illegally seized four regions, although it doesn’t fully control any of them.

But Ukraine is still struggling to stabilize parts of its front line after desperately needed military assistance from the United States was delayed for months before being approved in April. And Russia took advantage of the Ukrainian weapons shortage to launch an offensive and has made gains.

Nebenzia called Zelenskyy’s peace formula “a nonstarter” and said he needs to be “realistic” and take into account what’s happened since April. The more difficult the situation becomes for Ukraine on the ground, he warned, the more difficult diplomacy will become to end the war.

Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press