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Petro Poroshenko, former president of Ukraine, at the Halifax International Security Forum on Nov. 18.Steven Chase

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko says President Volodymyr Zelensky should share with allies any intelligence that supports his position that a deadly explosion in Poland was not caused by Ukrainian weaponry.

And he says Kyiv should make Russia’s acceptance of Ukrainian membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization a precondition before any peace talks with the Kremlin.

The former Ukrainian president is in Canada attending the Halifax International Security Forum, a gathering of Canadian, American and European leaders as well as military and security experts from NATO and its allies.

A missile killed two people Tuesday in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine, a matter that has exposed a rare public disagreement between Mr. Zelensky and Western allies.

Polish officials have said that the evidence so far suggests the deaths were the result of an errant Ukrainian rocket. Officials in Ukraine have disputed that conclusion. They have cited evidence the missile was fired by Russian forces and Mr. Zelensky has said that officials from his country should be allowed to join the probe into the strike. Meanwhile the Russians have insisted that their military has not fired any rockets into Poland.

Mr. Poroshenko, who led Ukraine from 2014 to 2019, said he doesn’t want to put a “question mark under the word of Zelensky” and the world should “at least give him an opportunity” to present evidence.

“I think that the best way would be to present this evidence, which he has at his disposal, to our partners, to the Americans, to the Polish.”

U.S. President Joe Biden said earlier this week it was unlikely that the missile was fired from Russia given the “lines of the trajectory.”

Mr. Poroshenko said he hoped an investigation would generate answers soon and said even if a Ukrainian missile or anti-missile system is found to be the cause, that Russia would still bear responsibility because of the military assault it launched on Ukraine in February.

Ukraine is facing pressure from some in the West to consider negotiations with Russia as Moscow has failed to achieve its goal of subduing Ukraine after nearly nine months of conflict. The highest-ranking U.S. soldier, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley last week argued there may be an opportunity for peace talks to end the war, given Russia’s string of failures in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government has said talks are not possible until Russia withdraws from Ukraine’s territory.

Mr. Poroshenko, however, said Kyiv should stipulate an even more daunting precondition: that Russia accept that Ukraine is allowed to join NATO before any talks begin.

He said any Russian push for peace talks would only be a feint by Moscow to buy time to “renew its fighting capability.”

Mr. Poroshenko said Ukraine’s best negotiator right now is its military, which has been taking back territory from Russia for months. Ukraine has reclaimed 54 per cent of the land Russia has captured since the beginning of the war, according to a recent New York Times analysis of data provided by the Institute for the Study of War.

“The best negotiator, the best diplomat right now is the Ukrainian armed forces,” Mr. Poroshenko said.

He said a precondition that Russia withdraw from Ukraine before negotiations is not enough. “Don’t trust Putin,” the former president said, referring to the Russian leader.

He said Ukraine wants to replace the armed forces of Ukraine security umbrella with the “Article Five NATO umbrella,” a reference to the collective defence pact at the heart of NATO, where an attack against one member of the alliance is considered as an attack against all allies.

“We should not only make a statement: ‘Okay, let’s have a peace talk,’ ” he said. “We have a different position, message: ‘We are welcoming Ukraine in NATO. And that is the precondition for peace in Europe and peace in the world.’ ”

Russian missile strikes have crippled almost half of Ukraine’s energy system, Kyiv said on Friday, and authorities in the capital warned that the city could face a “complete shutdown” of the power grid as winter sets in.

Mr. Poroshenko said supplies of replacement energy infrastructure equipment will be as important as supplies of weapons as Ukraine girds for dropping temperatures over the next four months until spring.

With a report from Reuters