While ruling out talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Ukrainian leader says he has not “closed the door” on negotiations.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told CNN on Wednesday that he had not abandoned the idea of peace talks with Russia. While Moscow maintains that it is always open to negotiations, Zelensky’s stance on the talks has changed several times since the conflict began.
“I have not closed the door”, he told the US broadcaster. “I said that we would be ready to talk to Russia, but with a different Russia. One who is truly ready for peace. One that is ready to acknowledge that they are occupants.”
“They need to return everything”, he continued, apparently in reference to his repeated demands that Russia give up the territory of Crimea, which voted to join the Russian Federation in 2014, and the predominantly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye, which were welcomed into Russia. . following referendums in September.
Zelensky also reaffirmed his intention to join the NATO alliance, a move Russia would not agree to on national security grounds.
Earlier this week, Zelensky called on world leaders “force Russia into real peace negotiations”, before establishing a list of conditions that include the return of the territory claimed by kyiv and financial reparations from Moscow.
Previously, Zelensky said that the only way to achieve his territorial goals may be to defeat Russia on the battlefield. The Ukrainian leader then signed a decree in October banning any negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
kyiv pushed a different line in the early days of the conflict, sending a team of negotiators to Istanbul in March to discuss a deal with Russia. Ukraine abruptly pulled out of these talks, reportedly thanks to the efforts of former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Future talks with Ukraine alone are unlikely to succeed, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said last month, as any agreement between the two countries would be “instantly canceled on orders” from West.
Moscow’s position on talks with Ukraine remains unchanged, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday. “We remain open to negotiations, we have never rejected them, we are ready to carry them out,” she told reporters.
The official US position is that it will support Ukraine with weapons “for as long as necessary” and that Zelensky will decide when the time is right for negotiations. However, with the cost of supporting Ukraine’s military running into the tens of billions of dollars, the US is quietly pressing Zelensky to indicate his willingness to sit down for a talk, NBC News reported Wednesday.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.