Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukraine could declare neutrality, potentially accept a compromise on contested areas in the country's east, and offer security guarantees to Russia to secure peace ``without delay,'' President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said ahead of another planned round of talks. But he said only a face-to-face meeting with Russia's leader could end the war.
While hinting at possible concessions, Zelenskyy also stressed that Ukraine's priority is ensuring its sovereignty and its ``territorial integrity'' preventing Russia from carving up the country, something Ukraine and the West say could now be Moscow's goal.
Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state we are ready to go for it,'' Zelenskyy said in an interview with independent Russian media outlets.
The Ukrainian leader has suggested as much before, but rarely so forcefully, and the latest remarks could create momentum for talks set to resume Tuesday.
Russia has long demanded that Ukraine drop any hope of joining the western NATO alliance, which Moscow sees as a threat.
Zelenskyy has also repeatedly stressed that Ukraine needs security guarantees of its own as part of any deal.
We must come to an agreement with the president of the Russian Federation, and in order to reach an agreement, he needs to get out of there on his own feet ... and come to meet me,`` he said in an interview that Russia barred its media from publishing.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that the two presidents could meet, but only after the key elements of a potential deal are negotiated.
``The meeting is necessary once we have clarity regarding solutions on all key issues,'' Lavrov said in an interview with Serbian media. He accused Ukraine of only wanting to ``imitate talks,'' but said Russia needed concrete results.
In an overnight video address to his nation, Zelenskyy said Ukraine sought peace ``without delay'' in talks due to get underway in Istanbul.
While saying ``Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt,'' Zelenskyy also suggested compromise might be possible over ``the complex question of Donbas.'' With its troops bogged down elsewhere, Moscow recently said its focus is now on securing that eastern region of Ukraine.
Zelenskyy said Ukraine would not try to take back the entire Donbas, which has been the scene of fighting between rebels and Ukrainian forces since 2014, because that would ``lead to World War III.''
It was not clear how a compromise would square with maintaining Ukraine's territorial integrity, and Russia and Ukraine also remain far apart on other issues. Zelenskyy has said any compromises on Donbas or agreement on neutrality must be put to a referendum of Ukrainian voters after Russian troops withdraw, while Moscow wants them sealed in a deal immediately.
Source: Times of India
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