Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stated his country’s readiness to declare military neutrality and its willingness to offer a number of security guarantees to Russia as part of its efforts to secure peace. However, he has insisted on maintaining the country’s territorial integrity.
Speaking to independent Russian media outlets, Zelenskyy confirmed that Ukraine is “ready” to offer security guarantees and declare neutrality, as well as pledge the state to a future non-nuclear status. The Ukrainian President also clarified that the issue could be put to a referendum for Ukrainian voters to decide – once the Russian troops withdraw from the country.
Zelenskyy’s interview, which Russian authorities warned against relaying in Russia, came ahead of a planned next round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian envoys, slated to be held in Turkey later this week.
According to the office of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish head of state talked to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, with the two coming to an agreement that the next round of talks should be held in Istanbul.
Previous rounds of talks failed to make any significant progress or halt the fighting that broke out on 24 February, with the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. Zelenskyy has insisted that the eventual peace deal can only come about if the two leaders meet in person, something Putin has refused for now.
“We must come to an agreement with the President of the Russian Federation”, Zelenskyy stated in the interview. “In order to reach an agreement, he needs to get out of there on his own feet… and come to meet me.”
The Russian side seems to be getting warmer to the idea. On Monday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the meeting between the two presidents should happen, once the two sides “are closer to agreeing on key issues”.